Module 5: Functional Nutrition Programmes

“We don’t catch chronic diseases, we create them by breaking down the natural defences according to the way we eat, drink, think and live” (Dr Bernard Jensen, Natural Health Doctor 1908-2001).

Welcome to the first module of the Advanced course Part 2. We are going to start Part 2 by integrating your knowledge of systems biology, clinical imbalances, food groups and the functional nutrition framework acquired from Part 1 with current approaches to health using functional nutrition. As we discussed in Part 1, functional nutrition is one of the key cornerstones of personalised medicine and the complex issues of biochemical, physiological genetic and environmental individuality in health and disease.

At this point, how to apply a suitable nutritional approach to an individual case may seem confusing; after all, there are so many diets and food programmes currently recommended and implemented in clinical nutrition practices. But which are the approaches that make a difference to health? And how can you go about selecting the most appropriate course of action for an individual case? Remember that nutrition should not be prescribed according to isolated components. A truly integrative approach to nutrition will focus on eating mindfully and the nutrient/caloric balance to help evolve the system (i.e. the individual) towards optimal function. The approach that will work for one person may not suit the next person that you see, even if they have similar symptoms/disease patterns.

But don’t panic! Whilst individuality is the key and subtle nuances are learned the more you apply functional nutrition to different cases, there are some key tools that you can use to support individuals. Firstly, always remember the key systems (as outlined in Module 3) that we are trying to optimally influence, such as the gut/digestion, liver biotransformation processes, the HPA axis, the nervous systems and neurotransmitter levels, immune system and chronic inflammation, hormones and oxidative balance/mitochondrial health. It’s imbalances in these systems that give us clues to help address the questions of what to manipulate in the diet and its nutrient content.

As a reminder, here’s the summary figure from Module 3 of the interconnectedness of the key systems.

Connections Between Clinical Imbalances Within the Functional Nutrition Framework
Figure 3.11 Connections Between Clinical Imbalances Within the Functional Nutrition Framework

We will now evaluate the research and the pros and cons of different functional nutritional approaches, from the more general combinations of foods found in eating styles such as Paleo and Mediterranean diets and also some more specialist diets like FODMAP. The aim is for you to feel confident about the integration of the basics of functional nutrition into supporting biological systems.

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