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May 5, 2014

Functional nutritional medicine vs dietetic nutrition

by Helene van den Berg

Dietetic Nutrition focuses on nutritional planning and preparation of foods. Dieticians advise people what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.
Functional medicine is a more holistic approach and diet is only one aspect of healing. It focuses on improving the individuals physiological, emotional, mental, physical performance, sick or well (restoration or enhancement of health, NOT SUPPRESSION of DISEASE)

It is based upon the concept of:

  • incremental stages of disease, ranging from acute illness to optimal health.
  • Four pillars of healing:
    • Relationship
    • Diet (lifestyle)
    • Environment
    • Detoxification

Functional medicines objective are:

  • assess individual uniqueness
  • implement diet, lifestyle, structural integrity and exercise/activity programs
  • promote improved health, resilience, vitality, performance and longevity.

Functional Medicine’s has 6 core principles:

  • biochemical individuality
  • patient-centered approach to treatment (not disease centered)
  • balance between the internal and external factors in a patient’s body , mind and spirit
  • interconnection of internal physiological factors
  • health is a positive vitality – not the absence of disease- enhancing a vigorous physiology
  • Promote organ reserve to enhance health span (not just life span).

Functional medicine is closely related to preventative medicine, but it emphasizes functional integrity of the individual at every stage of his /her life (not just later in life); NOT focused on INTERVENTION = too late!.

Why do we need Functional Medicine?

  • Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases
  • Physicians focus on acute-care approach (apply drugs/surgery to treat immediate problem or symptom) – ignoring the genetic make-up of each person, environmental exposures to toxins and lifestyle.
  • Huge gap between research and the way doctors practice (especially with chronic illnesses)
  • Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of chronic diseases and apply strategies such as nutrition, diet and exercise to treat and prevent illnesses.
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