Functional foods help you overcome health issues faster than standard nutrition “diets” alone and benefit the whole body.
If you’ve ever felt revived after eating a wholesome chicken soup, you’ve experienced the power of food as medicine. But food can heal much more than the common cold!
At AlignLife, our functional nutritionists put the healing properties of food to good work by creating dietary plans that address your body’s unique needs. It takes a dash of science and a pinch of kitchen creativity, but the end result is a delicious nutrition plan baked just for you.
In this article
What is Functional Nutrition?
You’re likely already familiar with standard nutrition practices. Any time you’ve counted calories, balanced your macronutrients or taken a multivitamin, you’ve used nutrition principles to guide your diet.
So, how is working with a functional nutritionist different from working with a standard nutritionist?
Functional nutrition is based on similar concepts as traditional nutrition, but it takes a more holistic approach to diet.
Rather than rely on general recommendations about what foods to eat (and how much), functional nutrition plans are customized to each individual’s unique needs. Not only do your gender, age, and weight determine the best diet for you, but also your health goals, health history, current symptoms, environment, toxic load, stress levels, genetics, food preferences, cultural diet, and lifestyle.
The foods we eat are also analyzed deeply in functional nutrition. Beyond calories and macronutrients, a functional nutritionist looks at a food’s vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content. The nature of the food is also taken into account, and whether a certain type of food is right for your body, rather than simply deemed “good” or “bad” for the general public. So, certain foods or diet styles might be a good choice for some, but not others.
The Benefits of Functional Nutrition
Taking a functional nutrition approach to filling our plates has some serious benefits. You’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of functional foods that help you overcome health issues faster than standard nutrition “diets” alone. Plus, because functional nutrition supports the whole body, it can improve your overall sense of well-being. After you start a functional nutrition plan, you can expect:
- Regular digestion
- Better nutrient absorption
- Improved sleep
- More energy
- Balanced hormones
- Happier moods
- And more
The Functional Nutrition Approach
The magic behind functional nutrition isn’t really magic at all – it’s science. Functional nutritionists are able to help their clients get such powerful results because their recommendations are targeted and individualized based on data. Here’s how it works:
Functional nutrition treats the whole person.
Like functional medicine, functional nutrition is patient-centered rather than disease-centered. This requires understanding not just the symptoms you’re facing, but the root cause of those health issues. Oftentimes, that root cause is directly related to nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, or food allergies. Through customized diet and lifestyle habits, we heal the root cause to reduce symptoms naturally and restore whole-body health.
Functional nutrition uses your lab results to determine your diet.
Rather than follow one-size-fits-all diet plans, functional nutritionists use lab tests to determine the best diet for you. These tests can identify deficiencies, imbalances, sensitivities, toxins, and pathogens that may be affecting your health. Based on your results, your functional nutritionist develops a diet plan (guided by the latest in nutritional research) that contains the exact nutrient combinations your body needs to heal. This avoids wasted time with trial-and-error dieting so you can progress as soon as possible.
Whole foods and supplements heal the body – not drugs.
In functional nutrition, food isn’t just fuel. It’s medicine. Whole foods, the right cooking methods, and strategic supplements help the body heal itself. Functional nutrition can often help you resolve health issues without the use of medications, or can be used in conjunction with your current medications for an integrative approach.
The Functional Nutrition Plan: What to Expect
Functional nutrition is entirely individualized, which means there’s no set diet plan or eating style. But, most functional nutrition plans do follow a few similar steps to help you achieve your health goals through the power of food.
1) Fuel the body with high-quality nutrients.
Without the right nutrients, your body won’t be able to function at its best. Many processed foods contain excess salt, fat, and sugar that can prevent the body from absorbing the macronutrients and micronutrients it needs. And since these foods are heavily processed, they don’t contain many (if any) nutrients.
Functional nutrition plans recommend whole foods that are as close to nature as possible. A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods ensures your body has all the building blocks it needs to heal, balance, and thrive.
2) Enhance the body’s detoxification processes.
Toxins are all around us. Thankfully, the body is designed to filter out toxins and protect itself – as long as our detoxification systems are working optimally. Unfortunately, toxic build-up or constant exposure to toxins can “clog up” the liver, kidneys, and other detox pathways.
Replacing processed foods with whole foods is one way functional nutrition helps us boost our detoxification abilities. Colorful produce and superfoods contain antioxidants and fiber that neutralize free radicals and flush away toxins.
Functional nutrition also uses strategic cleanses and supplements to promote a well-functioning detoxification system. Aceva’s Ultimate Body Cleanse is a holistic cleansing program trusted by functional nutritionists to enhance body detoxification. This 10-day program is a great way to jumpstart your healing by giving your body a clean slate so you can get the most benefits from your functional nutrition plan.
3) Restore gut health.
A healthy gut is the secret to a healthy life. Likewise, an imbalanced gut is often at the root of our most frustrating health issues. A healing whole-food diet helps restore this balance from the root. But before you can reverse your health issues through diet, you need to be able to absorb the high-quality nutrients you’ll be eating. For most people, functional medicine diet plans include foods rich in probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, and antioxidants to optimize your gut lining and microbiome.
4) Reduce and prevent inflammation.
Inflammation is at the root of most health issues. While inflammation is meant to support healing, when it becomes chronic, it wears away at tissues, causes pain, and prevents the body’s organ systems from functioning well. The good news is that we can use diet and lifestyle habits to reverse and prevent inflammation.
5) Replenish the body’s deficiencies.
Functional nutrition lab testing takes the guesswork out of fixing our nutrient deficiencies and underlying imbalances. Once we understand exactly what’s going on in the body to cause your symptoms, we can use foods and supplements that replenish those deficiencies to promote healing.
What Supplements Support a Functional Nutrition Plan?
Functional nutrition isn’t just about eating well. It’s about getting the right nutrients your body needs – and sometimes that requires a little extra help from supplements. Here are some of the most commonly used supplements that our AlignLife functional nutritionists recommend:
Aceva Ultimate Body Cleanse
The Ultimate Body Cleanse is a 5-in-1 detox program that supports toxin removal, parasite elimination, immune support, liver repair, gut health, and more. Powered with pharmaceutical-grade nutrients, this program helps you clear away lingering toxins and set you up for success.
Aceva Daily Balance
Aceva Daily Balance makes a great foundation for any nutritional program. This multivitamin and mineral formula contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need to thrive each day. Unlike other brands, Aceva’s multivitamin uses only the fully bioavailable forms of each nutrient for maximum absorption.
Aceva Active D
Over 40% of people in the United States don’t get enough vitamin D (even in summer). While it’s always a good idea to get your vitamins through food, there simply aren’t that many foods that contain sufficient levels of the sunshine vitamin. That’s why functional nutritionists will often recommend taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement like Aceva Active D.
Aceva Triple Mag
If you’re in the 75% of Americans who have low magnesium, you may suffer from issues like brain fog, muscle cramps, mood swings, and insomnia. Magnesium deficiency is linked to these and an even longer list of potential signs and symptoms because this seemingly simple mineral is a necessary factor in hundreds of body processes. To help you restore balance, functional nutritionists recommend a diet plan with magnesium-rich foods and a magnesium supplement like Aceva Triple Mag.
Is Functional Nutrition Right for You?
If you’ve been struggling with chronic health issues, or you’re worried about your gut health, or if you’re healthy and want to stay that way, functional nutrition is for you. In fact, functional nutrition’s individualized nature makes it a smart diet strategy for nearly anyone.
Ready to feel the benefits of a diet designed just for you? Our AlignLife functional nutritionists are here to help. We combine the latest in nutrition research, functional lab testing, personalized diet, and strategic supplements to help you improve your health from the inside out.