Functional Nutrition (FN) is the advanced practice of personalized nutrition assessment, diagnosis, intervention and monitoring, with the goal of promoting optimal health and preventing diet-and lifestyle-related disease.
It’s the core modality of functional medicine, an integrative approach to health. As defined by the Institute for Functional Medicine, “Functional medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and evaluating the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.”
· The prevalence of complex, chronic diseases is escalating globally, from heart disease and diabetes to irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders.
· Chronic disease is diet-and-lifestyle-related disease and requires diet-and-lifestyle solutions. A major strength of functional medicine nutrition is its focus on the molecular mechanisms that underlie disease, which provides the basis for targeted, innovative solutions that can restore health.
· The current healthcare system fails to take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or the ability of food, toxins, and other environmental factors to influence gene expression. The interaction between genes and environmental factors is a critical component in the development of chronic disease and plays a central role in the functional medicine nutrition approach.
· Most nutrition professionals are not adequately trained in integrating nutrition assessment at the molecular and cellular levels with emerging research in nutrition and nutritional genomics. These advanced practice skills are essential for preventing and managing today’s chronic disorders.
The FNP represents an advanced level of nutrition professional. The FNP functions as the physician’s primary partner on the collaborative care team and is the expert in using diet-and-lifestyle approaches, including nutritional genomics, for preventing and managing chronic disease. The specialty knowledge and advanced skills of the FNP make this practitioner unique within healthcare and able to participate within healthcare in ways never before possible.
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