• Why You Should See an Integrative Functional Dietitian

    by Danica Cowan, MS, RD
    on Apr 5th, 2018

Eating well isn’t something we easily make time for. Whether we eat sporadically, around a tricky work schedule, maybe grabbing whatever is convenient on the road, or we don’t pay enough attention to the particular nutrients we consume in a day, the plain fact is that the Western lifestyle puts little emphasis on healthy dietary habits and we often suffer for it. This can lead to all sorts of illnesses, ailments, and bodily malfunction, even in ways you might never suspect.

No matter your lifestyle, or your current state of health, seeing an integrative functional dietician might be the best choice you can make, to take charge of your healing and promote lasting wellness.

What Does an Integrative Functional Dietitian Practice?

An integrative functional dietitian follows the same general practice and philosophy as other practitioners of integrative and functional medicine. Put simply, integrative medicine eschews the distinctions common to much of Western medicine between discrete bodily systems. Rather, it embraces the idea of the body as a whole, with each system, process, organ, and behaviour as being fundamentally entwined with all the others.

An integrative functional dietitian practices medicine with an holistic, personalized approach to health, wellness, and healing.

Your Diet Impacts Every Bodily System and Process

We've all heard it said that food is fuel but that doesn't really do justice to just how important one’s diet is to one’s various bodily systems and processes. We’ve written before about how integral a person's gut flora are to everything from health and disease, to mood, energy level, sleep, and more. Indeed, it goes further in as much as that a person's diet and caloric intake, inclusion of particular nutrients, or even just metabolic activity from digestion very much shape the way the body functions.

Even without allergies and intolerances certain foods can produce headaches, rashes, inflammation, localized pain, lethargy, or mood disturbances like agitation. Put simply, aside from sensory experience, your diet is the means by which your body interacts with the world  around it. Changes to your diet produce long-lasting, far-reaching effects throughout your body, so it’s imperative that you manage your diet responsibly.

Your Diet is Bound Up with Your Lifestyle

An integrative functional dietitian will tell you that your diet and lifestyle have something of a codependent relationship. Lifestyle choices like exercise, work habits, stress and Stress Management, and time management can all have a profound impact on the dietary choices you're able to make. On the other hand, your dietary choices can directly impact everything from your sleep habits and circadian rhythms to your posture.

Eating too late at night, for instance, resets your biological clock. Your body, with half a million years of evolutionary instinct, assumes that if this is when you’re eating, this is the time the food is available. Eating late at night resets your clock, and in effect puts your body to day-mode unnaturally. Eating something too sweet can hack your body’s natural energy and resource allocation systems, producing undesired effects like jitters and burnout.

Eating too little zinc can cause lethargy, which can lead to a lack of exercise and irregular sleep, which can in turn lead to more serious conditions like heart disease.

Diet and lifestyle need to work together for optimal health. Symptoms in one category interrelate with causes in another, and an integrative functional dietitian will be able to better see, and address those connections.

Diets Must Be Personalized

No two people will respond in precisely the same way to the same diet, because no two people will share exactly the same dietary requirements. A person's specific dietary needs might depend on their particular gut flora or their blood type. It would be overly simplistic to assume that there is one “best” diet. An integrative functional dietitian will be better able to look at a wider variety of parameters in order to design a more appropriate diet for each patient.

Furthermore, a specific person’s dietary needs are dynamic and evolve over time, along with life stage, seasonality and daily acute stressors. Learning about one’s self and the right foods for your body as well as how and when to eat them is invaluable education.

The correct diet for a particular patient will also depend on that patient’s specific needs and lifestyle. For instance, a younger more athletic patient will have radically different dietary needs from an older more sedentary patient. A twelve year old may have completely different dietary needs from a six year old. With such a high degree of personalization, and with so many relevant factors, it’s important to work with an integrative functional dietician who will be able to explore the problem of creating a perfect diet from a variety of medical perspectives.

Good Nutrition is a Means to Lasting Holistic Wellness

By taking charge of your diet, and your nutrition, you will be able to bring about lasting, holistic wellness in other areas of your life. An integrative functional dietitian will be able to help you tailor a diet for your particular goals. Those goals might range from weight loss or muscle gain, to clearer skin, reduced joint pain, better sleep, or just about any other complaint or ailment.

If you’re ready to work with an integrative functional dietitian, now’s the perfect time to book a consultation with Advanced Health, and start yourself on the path to a healthy body and a peaceful spirit.

Author Danica Cowan, MS, RD Danica Cowan, MS, RD is a Holistic Nutritionist located in Pacific Heights, San Francisco.

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