What’s the Difference Between a Functional Nutritionist and a General Nutritionist?
Nutritional science is important for each individual’s health and as our understanding of food and health advances, you may need help sorting through ever changing recommendations. There are many practitioners working in the nutrition field – how do you know which is right for you? Specifically, there are several differences in the way a general nutritionist advises patients versus a functional nutritionist. A general nutritionist will be able to help patients generally follow nutritional recommendations and diet guidelines, while a functional nutritionist works to create the best nutritional plan for each individual. A functional nutritionist focuses on each individual’s bio-individuality consisting of their food sensitivities, likes and dislikes, while still following the healthy foundational concepts of a nutritional lifestyle. Generally speaking, a general nutritionist is a “one size fits all” nutritional plan while a functional nutritionist tailors a plan designed to work with your body and lifestyle and change as your needs change.
What Conditions can a Functional Nutritionist help to Manage?
A functional nutritionist has been trained to evaluate the needs, goals and sensitivities of each individual. Taking a holistic approach to a person’s nutrition, they treat each individual as a whole, customizing a plan that accounts for their food allergies, exercise regime, lifestyle, and their current mental status. A functional nutritionist helps manage digestive/gut problems, nutrient deficiencies, sleep disorders, autoimmune issues, obesity, metabolic syndrome, eating disorders, pain management, and stress, anxiety or depression related to food, health, and body issues. Along your nutritional journey, your functional nutritionist can adjust your nutrition plan to treat multiple conditions as your needs change or as different issues arise.
What Strategies will a Functional Nutritionist Employ?
A functional nutritionist looks at the individual as a whole, taking into account their overall lifestyle, diet and the current status of their mental and physical health. To account for so many contributing factors that affect a person’s health and nutrition, when customizing a plan for improvement a functional nutritionist will focus on the root cause of a person’s health problems. While the defining details will vary from person to person, typically each plan will include a comprehensive review of:
- Medical history
- Organ systems
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Food sensitivities
A functional nutritionist will generally not diagnose or prescribe treatments for specific conditions, but instead provide insight and education about nutrition and behaviors and provide suggestions for improvement. For example, a functional nutritionist will assist in developing a customized plan for a patient’s digestion system to become more efficient in processing certain types of foods with the addition of beneficial bacteria. Suggestions may include taking a daily supplement, managing stress, or adding specific foods to your diet.
What are Some Examples of Functional Foods?
Unlike the latest fad diet, cleanse, or food craze, a functional nutritionist can provide you with examples of the best functional foods specifically for you. While your tailored list will fall into common functional food categories, your list will include foods that you and your body agree with. It’s recommended you fill up on foods that keep the entire body functioning with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, probiotics, and complex carbohydrates. It’s best to avoid substances found in factory-farmed animal products, GMOs, and crops treated with pesticides as these substances can affect your health and immune system. It follows that you should consume higher quality foods and not highly processed foods because these foods take a toll on your digestive system affecting the ability for your other systems to work properly too. Prioritizing your gut health by adding beneficial bacteria will give you the return on investment you need to battle infections, inflammation, hormone imbalances and autoimmune diseases. These microbes in your stomach and intestines are called your microbiome, and keeping them at healthy levels is essential to keeping your immune system in balance and chronic diseases at bay.
What are the Advantages of a Functional Nutritionist?
The power of a functional nutritionist is not a one time victory, but a dynamic and continuous journey that evolves as your health changes and improves. You will experiment with different foods and learn to understand how your body processes, reacts, and responds to specific foods so you can support your digestion, immunity, mental and physical health. Regretfully, your primary care doctor or even a general nutritionist will probably not be able to provide you with the assistance needed for holistically improving your health and food choices. A functional nutritionist is uniquely qualified to teach you how to utilize the right kind of nutrient rich, whole foods to realign your relationship with food!
Make an Appointment with a Functional Nutritionist at Aligned Medical Group today!
If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and ready to take that first step in improving your physical and mental health, make an appointment today! Aligned Medical Group’s functional nutritionists will personalize a plan that incorporates your medical needs, personal preferences, and lifestyle goals in a sustainable fashion complete with support and advice for each step you take on your improved health journey.