Why Functional Nutrition?
Your body relies on innumerable metabolic reactions 24/7 to function, which use amino acids, vitamins and minerals that you consume through nutrition. Similar to a puzzle with a missing piece, sometimes your diet is missing a specific nutrient to complete these vital metabolic reactions!
Functional Nutrition looks at how your metabolism and various organ systems are functioning in relationship to one another (hence the name). The body can be functioning optimally, insufficiently or can be in a nutritionally deficiency state. You can still experience symptoms in an insufficient state without being officially "deficient" in a nutrient; we can catch negative trends before they progress to a disease state! I also look for root causes of chronic symptoms that may be caused by dysfunction of metabolic pathways, which can include toxins, gut problems, nutrient deficiencies, stress, etc.
I look at the body as an integrated system that works synergistically as opposed to compartmentalizing the organ systems. For instance, normally you might be referred to practitioners of various specialties for certain types of symptoms: immunologist, allergist, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, etc. look at the individual organ systems or specialties to assess dysfunction. However, sometimes a gut issue can cause cognitive issues, adrenal issues, allergies or immune issues. My clients have often left some of these specialists frustrated and without answers beyond symptom management because the root cause was not discovered. Your allergist may not have realized your gut damage was causing your allergic-type reactions, or your immunologist may not have assessed diet or nutrients as a reason for immune dysfunction.*
*See question below on differences between doctors and clinical nutritionists specializing in functional nutrition.
Clinical nutrition is more than meal plans and weight loss! I spend 60-90 minutes in an initial consult to thoroughly evaluate a client’s biochemistry via laboratory results, health history, family history, current diet, symptoms and sometimes genetic profile, and then make recommendations for functional foods or nutraceuticals (therapeutic nutritional supplements) as needed to help support them. Over time, clients experience a significant decrease (if not a complete reversal) of symptoms, often without any medications. My goal is always to get the client back to their optimal state of health with the fewest side effects possible.
What is the difference between a clinical nutritionist and a doctor?
There are some major differences. I do not diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases as I am not a physician; rather, I assess how external environmental factors (diet consumption, exercise, sleep, stress, etc.) impact how your body is functioning. I work alongside my clients' healthcare teams and refer to doctors when appropriate. I am specially trained in nutrition, biochemistry/metabolism and biochemical assessments such as saliva, hair, urine or blood laboratory assessments. The results of those assessments are looked at purely to assess potential nutrient issues. I do not prescribe medication; to receive a prescription medication, you must see your regular doctor. However, I do assess how certain medications can impact your nutrient levels as some medications use certain nutrients at a higher rate and this may need to be supported. This is not the case for all individuals and a proper nutritional assessment may determine if this is an issue or not.
Keep in mind, physicians are incredibly smart! They are very highly educated, but typically do not have advanced training in nutrition (read article). Although all docs are different and many are undergoing more nutritional training, more and more doctors are recognizing the importance of nutrition for their patients and are referring out to nutritionists to work alongside them. My clients report that the support of a clinical nutritionist has made a huge difference as part of their care team. At the end of the day, if your instinct says nutritional help may be beneficial, it may be!
Do you order lab work?
Yes I do, but not to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases; I only use them to assess nutritional status. Some non-specialty tests can be ordered by your doctor if you prefer, but I can order them as well if that is easier for you. I do not bill insurance or submit to insurance companies. I will provide a receipt if requested for you to submit if you wish.
What kind of lab work do you order?
I only order labs after I assess that I need more information.
Traditional blood labs: Complete Blood Count, Comprehensive Metabolic Panels, Iron, Vitamin D, Endocrine, Cholesterol, etc.
Hormone, Hormone Precursors
Allergy/Food Sensitivity Assessments
DNA Comprehensive Stool Analysis
Labs can be extraordinarily helpful for discovering root causes.
What is the difference between a clinical nutritionist and other nutritionists?
There is a sliding scale of knowledge amongst types of nutritionists. Some nutritionists have done a short online certification program, and some have progressed all the way up to a PhD. In order to obtain a nationally-recognized Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) designation, a minimum of a Masters Degree and 1,000 hours of supervised training is required. At this level, nutritionists go far beyond general meal plans and weight loss programs; they have advanced knowledge of diseases, disease pathophysiology, advanced biochemical interactions and associated nutritional support. Many often receive training in genetic polymorphisms, which are becoming more and more popular to assess in the form of DNA tests, and much more.
I have achieved a certification in Applied Clinical Nutrition (ACN), am currently earning my 1,000 supervised hours for CNS certification, and am in my final few weeks of my Masters Degree program in Human Nutrition (functional nutrition focus) from the University of Bridgeport.
I'm looking forward to helping you on your journey to realize that there is hope that wellness is possible!