What Is Functional Medical Nutrition?

Do You Need a Life Guard, or a Swim Instructor?

In the ever-growing, ever-changing world of health offers, it can start to become difficult to know what sort of help you may want or need.

A woman call the other day looking for help, but she stumbled on her words at first, because she didn’t even know what kind of help she needed. It this is not uncommon – people often feel confused and unsure of what kind of help they are actually looking for. Do they need a doctor, a dietician, coach? And what path do they want to go, holistic, conventional, or functional medicine?  

There May Be Overlaps, but in a General Sense:

Consider doctors like lifeguards. They are very good at acute issues, emergencies, and helping you immediately when you are drowning or suffering.

But functional medical nutritionists and functional performance dietitians (what I do) are more like swim instructors. It’s advanced training beyond standard Dietetics. They get in the water with you. They teach you the basics, and then help you refine more and more. Have a health issue? They’ll adapt the instructions for you. Want to optimize your swim energy? They can get into the nuances. Overall, the goal is to make it so you will have less and less need for the lifeguard, and instead guide you to become a stronger swimmer, taking it as advanced as you want to go.

Our Current Health System

woman holding half full glass and white medicine pill

When it comes to health, unfortunately, our medical system is more dictated by the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies than it is by science and health. Doctors are forced into rapid schedules, churning through patients, and pressured to hit quotas. They often don’t have time for much more than a few cursory questions and scribbling a prescription to put a band-aid on symptoms, yet often those medication will have several negative side effects.

Functional medical nutrition is about getting to the root cause. We have our own unique set of labs we can use, to look at optimizing your gut health, immune health, nutritional status, adrenal response, diet and exercise recommendations based on your DNA (“nutrigenomics”) and more. We get into the nitty gritty of your entire SELF: your sleep, stress, relationships, goals, genetics, medications, movement patterns, and – yes – bathroom habits. Because it all matters and has a web of cause-and-effect on your health and performance.

Functional Medical Practitioners:

  • Are great when your doctor says “everything is normal” but you don’t feel like it!
  • Will spend more time getting a full history and hearing your full story
  • Will use research-backed lab tests to see what is going on, at a deep root-cause level
  • Personalize recommendations to you based on the data
  • Address the root cause, rather than just treating symptoms
  • May utilize supplements in short-term therapeutic ways to rebalance your body
  • Shouldn’t keep you on a restricted diet long-term
  • Should help you create a long-term game plan, and guide you into sustaining your results

Who Would Benefit From Functional Nutrition Help?

Anyone can benefit! A person with a chronic health issue or on-going frustrating symptoms can get help as you look into body systems, and begin to rebalance and optimize them. I have helped people with IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, SIBO, migraines, post-concussion syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, past surgery pains (screws in ankles, plates in heads, metal discs in spines, removed pieces of intestines), chronic brain fog, and more.

But even if you do not have a specific health issue or diagnosis, our society is rife with damaging foods, chemicals, pollutants, stressors and other factors taxing your body. A marathon runner improved her pace; an OCR coach found GI comfort on the course; an Orange Theory member honed his physique and reduced inflammation; a tennis player improved her sleep; a hockey player lost weight; weekend warriors improved mood and energy.

Health and Performance Exist on a Continuum, and Should Constantly be Honed.

One of the statements I hear repeatedly from clients when they finish a program is, “I finally feel more at home in my own body.” Many people suspect they could feel better than they do, but have convinced themselves that the fatigue they have, the irritability, the low-level aches and pains are just a part of life. “That’s just getting older.”

Trust your gut. If you think you could feel better or perform better… you probably can!

We can go beyond the current medical mindsets, and find the true cause of what is limiting your potential.

We can look at root causes and optimizing your body systems. We can understand your specific DNA and physiology, then work to balance and support your hormones, fine-tune your metabolism, refine your diet, improve your adrenal health, and give you personalized, detailed information needed to create a healthier you.

That is what Functional Medical Nutrition and Functional Performance Nutrition are all about – fix the health issues, optimize your plan, and perform at your best in every avenue of life.

See you on the trails!


P.S: just like doctors can specialize in various areas, so can functional nutritionist. My focus is helping active people, runners, and Obstacle Course Racers overcome chronic pain, arthritis, or GI issues without a lifetime of restricted food lists or medications. So if that sounds like you, or someone you know, reach out for a free call to discuss Functional options!

Live more, with more energy and better health!

Published by Kate Cline, RD

Registered Dietitian with a focus on Gut Health, Inflammation, and Functional Nutrition. Personal Trainer with a focus on corrective exercise. Yoga teacher, traveler, empowerment coach.

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