An integrative nutritionist is one who practices within the concepts of Integrative Medicine. This is a "healing oriented" practice that takes into account the whole person in reference to mind, body, spirit, and all aspects of lifestyle. It is based on a partnership between patient/client and practitioner, within which the best of conventional, complementary, and alternative medicine practices can be explored & considered.
More specifically, Functional Medicine (FM) looks at the (chronic) dysfunctions many people are burdened with — who are lacking support and direction as to how to overcome chronic symptoms, and rebalance the body to more positive levels of vitality. These dysfunctions are the center of the work involved to bring one back to healthier functioning. FM is a science-based health care approach that is well known and has been practiced and researched for decades. In many cases, clients resolve what conventional health practitioners view as "complex chronic disease/symptoms". The FM system focuses on the biochemical assessment of each patient, and individually tailors interventions that help restore physical, mental, emotional and structural balance.
These conditions are numerous and can include but not limited to: fatigue, intestinal disturbances, body weight imbalances, depression, hormone imbalances and much more. Most experts agree the majority of Integrative/Functional Medicine involves nutrition intervention because at a biochemical and cellular level - we can heal the body largely through nutritional means of a specified diet and supplementation plan. Further, every process of the body is driven/dependant on some type of nutrient, enzymes, protein, etc. Balancing these substances to meet individual's specific needs promote levels of health many have not experienced for decades. In many cases, supplementation is very temporary during the rebalancing stage. It is very short- term in comparison to the duration of the condition(s) one has been burdened with. Although positive foods are the foundation of health and healing, supplementation provides the additional support the body needs to achieve a positive transition in health.
Functional Medicine is a science-based field of enhanced health care that is grounded in the following principles:
- Patient/Client Centered vs. Disease-centered: Personalized health plans are developed between the practitioner and client/patient, which addresses initial concerns and longer-term goals.
- Assisting the Body in Facilitating Natural Healing: Each individual's unique ability to gain optimal vitality and wellness — to levels they choose — are maximized.
- Biochemical Individuality based on genetic and environmental uniqueness. Looking at what is uniquely happening and why (origin of problems) allows for a more thorough resolution of problems.
- Safe and Effective Healing: Based on currently practiced and/or researched knowledge.
- Health Viewed as a Positive Vitality: Not merely the absence of disease.
- Promotion of Organ Reserve: As a means to enhance health span.
- Web-like Interconnections: There are connections between the mind, body, spirit, and community in the interplay of health and disease including physiological, environmental, immune and inflammatory, energy production, gastrointestinal, detoxification, structural, and hormonal.
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In addition, research has proven through the Human Genome Project (http://doegenomes.org) that we can positively affect our genetic expression (phenotype) by lifestyle choices — diet and nutrition intervention being a major component. As our population achieves an ever-increasing life span in an increasingly fast-paced and demanding society, a positive, comprehensive, and dynamic health care plan for optimal well-being, with a full range of healing resources, becomes increasingly apparent and of utmost importance.