What is Functional Holistic Nutrition?
Today I want to elaborate a little on Functional Nutrition and treating the body holistically and how it can help you to be healthy.
Functional Nutrition is the concept that nutrition plays a major role in prevention and healing of many conditions and chronic disease through nourishment and its effect on a cellular level. Certain foods have certain functions in our bodies. By utilizing food as medicine, optimal health can be achieved.
Treating the body holistically means recognizing that one body part can affect another. Just because you may have a symptom in your foot, does not mean the cause is in your foot, but could rather be somewhere else in the body. Most people assume if their big toe hurts that they must have injured it, and would never think it could be caused by diet, but in the case of Gout, it is!
But health and weight etc are not only about food. When I work with clients, we discuss what I call the 5 pillars of health – Food, Fitness, Sleep, Stress Management and a nontoxic lifestyle. All 5 of these affect your health and work together. Ill bet either you or someone you know has gotten frustrated because perhaps they have tried to diet and exercise and were unsuccessful in reaching their goals. Perhaps multiple diets and even products were tried. Either you never got to your goal, or got there but it didn’t last. One reason is because you cant do two of the five and be healthy. You have to have all 5. If you are dieting and exercising but not sleeping, and you are stressed out and your life is full of toxins, guess what? Things like your metabolism and your hormones are affected by all 5 of these, and when those are out of balance it can greatly affect your weight and overall health (because we all know skinny doesn’t mean healthy). All 5 areas must be addressed. Once you do that, things start to work right!
Speaking of dieting – First of all. Diet is a four letter word. Diet implies 2 things – restriction, and that its going to end. This is why fad diets do not work. In regards to calorie restriction – eat too little and your metabolism slows down to readjust. Its not only about the quantity of calories but about the quality of calories. If you eat 5000 calories of garbage per day, youll still be hungry. You brain keeps your hunger hormones on looking for nutrients in addition to those calories. Which brings us to restriction in regards to type of food. If there is a nutrient you need in an entire food group that your fad diet tells you to eliminate, guess what? You wont be satisfied and will have cravings and be hungry. Plus, life is too short to eliminate real food. Its ok to cut things out MOST of the time, in the case of starchy carbs for example, but don’t tell yourself its forbidden and you must never eat it again. That’s not fun, its stressful, and its not sustainable. Do you really want to go through the rest of your life never having popcorn during a movie ever again because your fad diet told you not to? Even if you never do, knowing you can if you want to is a better way to look at it. Life is for living and food is meant to be enjoyed. But another reason you shouldn’t do fad diets like that is because if you do it for a while and lose weight, then go back to eating the way you did before because you do want that popcorn, you will probably gain your weight back, and depending on how restrictive you were, maybe even more. Plus you didn’t really learn anything during your “diet”. You just followed a diet instead of learning how to just eat real food that your body knows what to do with in a healthier way that nourishes you and is something you can stick with for the rest of your life.
That being said, food allergies and intolerances are a different story. If you have one, you absolutely should cut that out of your diet, and almost always, there are ways to substitute that food, and I can usually convert a recipe so you can still eat what you want. For example one of my clients is gluten and dairy free and yesterday I made her macaroni and cheese. Many people have intolerances and do not know. Only allergies can be tested for, intolerances is more trial and error. I can usually tell if I think someone has one, and we work to figure it out. If you have one, and you get the offender out of your life, youd be surprised at how your health just seems to magically improve from that one change.
Other changes that seem to help everything get back into place are balancing hormones like I mentioned and balancing gut health. On the graphic you can see how everything is connected. Think about when you get one of these symptoms, you usually get one of the others don’t you? You will notice dementia is on here. Alzheimer's is now being referred to as type 3 diabetes because they have discovered a connection between that and high blood sugar, which you can see in the gut box. I would also like to point out that you have dopamine receptors in your gut AND it’s a huge part of your immune system too!
And when one hormone gets out of whack, the others will follow suit. Its like a symphony and if one is out of tune, the rest wont sound very good either. This graphic is by no means a complete list of all of our hormones but it’s the ones that most commonly get unbalanced in a domino effect and that we can work to get balanced again. A lot of symptoms one might be having could be related to this, fatigue for example or depression, weight gain, insomnia etc and balancing things can eliminate a lot of these issues without medication.
So the bottom line here is that you should look at yourself as the sum of a whole rather than individual parts, understand that everything is connected to each other and that all 5 areas of health are important for health and wellness. You really can fix or at least improve most of your issues with nutrition and addressing these other areas.