Navigating Functional Nutrition—here's what you need to know
By, Anne Salazar, RH (AHG)
As long as I have been practicing herbal medicine (and prior to that), there have always been popular forms of nutrition/diet. From Macrobiotics decades ago to Keto in more recent years, the public has always tended towards specific, trending ways of eating as the most advantageous. It continuously shifts over the years, and is interesting to observe. But the bottom line is that truly there is no ONE WAY that works for all people, all of the time. Just as the traditional practice of herbal medicine has always been about individual and personalized medicine, no matter the situation or the diagnosis- the same is true for nutrition. They are mutually inclusive. As plants are medicine, so is food. And with that, ‘functional’ nutrition is as ancient as traditional medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic Medicine, have always utilized constitutional as well as seasonal eating. Constitutional medicine (whether it be herbs or food) involves looking carefully at the constitution of the individual; meaning their body/health types that fall into categories such as yin/yang (TCM) or Dosha(Ayurveda) characteristics. When consulting with an individual, it is vital to consider where they are at that time (health and lifestyle), and what herbs and foods are appropriate for their given situation at that time. Bottom line, Functional Nutrition is just that- functional and practical. It is a highly customized holistic health perspective that takes individual and unique specifications into account to trigger healing from the cellular level.
This being said, there are core principals belonging to traditional dietary wisdom and current scientific research that offers a comprehensive health supportive diet that can be easily modified for individual needs. By applying various diagnostic approaches- observing the host, the micro–environment and the disease- a personalized diet can be created. Every calorie we ingest fuels the inward energy that creates, nourishes, and heals every cell in our bodies. A nutrient dense, phytonutrient rich diet provides the building blocks to create healthy cells, produces balanced energy, and helps reduce the toxic waste by-products that cause inflammation and cellular damage.
Our bodies are designed to thrive on a varied diet of whole, unprocessed foods: fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs; proteins from sea and land animals; naturally grown and processed grains and beans; and fermented foods. Despite regional and cultural differences, traditional diets throughout the world are all based on some combination of these basic foods. These foods are tied to our human evolution—they are the nourishment that has kept us healthy for eons.
With this abundance of choices a practitioner can create a comprehensive diet for each individual that takes into account geographic location; season; energetic type (deficiency/excess, yin/yang, organ system weakness); traditional diet (ethnic background/taste preferences); the presence of chronic and/or acute conditions; lifestyle (work/exercise); and environmental influences (toxic exposure). Needless to say, when specific nutrient deficiencies and imbalances are apparent, it is often necessary to add quality supplemental nutrients (ie: vitamins, minerals, etc) to the protocol.
At Remedy, we will always strive to use a functional approach in all we do, as we know that is in the best interest of our customers and clients. Individualized consults and protocols (herbal and nutritional), can be scheduled with us. We are here to assist you in your personal journey towards optimal health.