Functional Nutrition/Medicine

What is Functional Nutrition/Medicine? 

Functional medicine is unique in that it seeks to uncover and heal the root cause of a disease.  The importance of evaluating biochemical individuality and environmental and nutritional factors when diagnosing and treating disease is key to functional medicine. The body is viewed as one interrelated system that must be kept balanced in order to prevent illnesses and health complications. This is different than the conventional medical approach which considers diseases to be the result of a specific organ or genetic abnormality that cannot be overcome by personalized nutritional and dietary interventions. Instead, the use of drugs and surgery are considered the appropriate solution in the management of disease.

In order to provide the patient with the most customized care, a functional medicine practitioner will gather information about the patient’s medical history, lifestyle, environment, genetics and other psychological and external factors that may be related to his/her current state of health.  All of these factors, and how they interact, can give significant clues to the etiology of the disease.  The practitioner will use cutting edge clinical laboratory testing to look at functional biomarkers of metabolism, nutrition and toxin exposure. Great care is taken to prevent the optimization of one system at the expense of another, something which is commonly done in a traditional medical practice.  Side effects, which most medicines have, are thus avoided. Using the wealth of information collected, the functional medicine practitioner can confidently apply a precise, individualized treatment plan

tea-595x394 Functional Nutrition/Medicine               

How do Functional Nutritionists (MS) differ from Dietitians (RD)?                              

RDs are registered in all states to legally practice nutrition counseling.  They require completion of a B.S. in dietetics, a supervised internship and an exam in order to be registered by the ADA, now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).  Most RDs work either in private practice or, more frequently, in institutional environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and school settings under the direction of conventional medical physicians.  RDs are particularly well trained to monitor the nutritional needs of diabetics, dialysis patients and patients with special diets due to genetic diseases.  

Both RDs and nutritionists can review standard lab test results and provide nutritional recommendations based on their findings. RDs are taught to follow the recommendations set forth by specific Associations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. A lot of their work has to do with quantity aspects such as counting calories and ensuring daily nutrient requirements are met, as opposed to quality concerns such as ingredient quality (non toxic, organic, non GMO…) and food preparation standards ( AGEs, BPAs).  Many RDs have little knowledge or interest in functional medicine and testing, herbal preparations and food quality, areas which clinical nutritionists are very well trained. 

Functional nutritionists offer guidance on how  to improve health and prevent disease by cleansing the body, restoring biochemical imbalances, correcting nutrient deficiencies and optimizing body systems.  They can help clients by suggesting healing functional foods and therapeutic supplements such as vitamins  and herbal preparations. Their approach may be more personalized than RDs because recommendations are based on the unique individual case and not on the general recommendations set forth by specific associations.   

Who can practice nutrition in the state of New Jersey? 

The state of NJ currently has no licensure law restricting or regulating the field of nutrition. This means nutritional counseling is legal for any and all to practice.  One does not need to obtain an RD or other certification to practice nutritional counseling. Of course, it is always best to seek a nutritionist with an advanced degree (MS, Ph.D.) because these people have more schooling and a greater  knowledge of  all aspects of nutritional care.