Functional Nutrition is about finding the right way for each of us as individuals to eat. Using food to maximize the potential for health and reverse dysfunction or disease. There is no single "right diet" that applies to all of us. We have different genetic backgrounds, different preferences, and different lives. We all want to be health, but most of us haven't figured out just how to make food and dietary patterns serve that goal. Functional Nutrition offers the concepts, strategies and tools to make that happen.
For untold centuries, humans have relied on the food supply as a source of energy, health and connection. However, in the last six or seven decades, changes in the food supply (and in how we use it) have contributed strongly to the growing epidemic of chronic disease. Functional Nutrition developed out of a desire on the part of healthcare providers to change that picture.
Emerging science is very clear that food is a powerful influence on health. Food offers not only the calories that fuel our body's metabolism (engine), but it also contains many diverse components that play important roles in all our bodily functions. Poor-quality food can actually create disease, and high-quality food -- in the right proportions and amounts -- can reverse disease and sustain health. In a very real sense, food is medicine!
How Food Affects Our Health
There are three basic elements in our diets:
Macronutrients - the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are the building blocks of all food
Micronutrients - vitamins and minerals
Phytonutrients - plant-derived substances that have a positive effect on health
Processed foods involve alterations in the food supply that interfere with the best use of those basic elements. Practices such as hydrogenating oils, adding sugar and sweeteners, processing the life out of grains, applying toxic agricultural chemicals, or using trans fats may make the food have a longer shelf-life or look prettier or appeal to our sweet tooth, but, as a steady diet, they make us sick.
Food is actually information, not just energy (calories). Food actually tells our bodies how to function by signaling exactly when and how each different type of cell should behave in every situation. So, we want the very best information to reach our cells in order to achieve optimal functioning.
Food Is More Than Energy And Information
Food also represents connection -- families preparing and eating food together, affirming cultural bonds, enjoying celebrations and ceremonies.
The loss of the shared family meal with food prepared from scratch has been part of the transformation that is feeding the chronic disease cycle.
Information from The Institute for Functional Medicine