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  • Writer's pictureDr. Teresa Rispoli

Holistic Nutrition Training Program Now Open

Updated: May 13, 2020

Functional Medicine Principals and Tools ~ learn how to become the last stop-go-to Health professional who gets results with even the toughest chronic cases

“ Learn More about our Functional Nutritionist Certification Online Course.”

Functional Nutrition is being driven by increased consumer demand, advancing scientific research, and is changing the landscape of healthcare!

Functional Nutrition offers a powerful leading-edge, evidenced-based, individualized case approach to nutrition care that significantly improves your patient’s health outcome. Functional Nutrition combines modern science, individualized functional assessments and specialty laboratory testing, critical thinking, treatment, and prevention of chronic disease to replace the outdated and ineffective acute-care models bases on symptoms alone that is carried forward from the 20th century.

Functional Nutrition utilizes the latest in genetic science, systems connections, and understanding of how environmental and lifestyle factors influence the development and progression of disease.

Functional Nutrition enables physicians and other health professionals to practice proactive, predictive, personalized medicine and empowers patients to take an active role in their own health.

Functional Nutrition addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered-whole body approach, Functional Nutrition addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Nutritionists spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Nutrition supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.

Functional Nutrition is Guided By Six Core Principles:

  1. An understanding of the biochemical individuality of each human being, based on the concepts of genetic and environmental uniqueness.

  2. Awareness of the evidence that supports a patient-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment.

  3. Search for a dynamic balance among the internal and external body, mind, and spirit.

  4. Interconnections of internal physiological factors.

  5. Identification of health as a positive vitality, not merely the absence of disease, and emphasizing those factors that encourage the enhancement of a vigorous physiology.

  6. Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance the health span, not just the life span, of each patient.

A patient-centered approach refers to health care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and that ensures that patient values guide all clinical decisions. At FNA, patient-centered care is the core of what we call the therapeutic partnership; the relationship that forms between a patient and clinician that empowers the patient to take ownership of their own healing. The power of the therapeutic partnership comes from the idea that patients who are active participants in the development of their therapeutic plan feel more in control of their own well-being and are more likely to make sustained lifestyle changes to improve their health.

Functional Nutrition vs Conventional Medicine

So how is Functional Medicine different from today’s conventional Western medical system? To begin, the focus of care is different. The goal of conventional medicine is for doctors to identify diseases by recognizing patterns of symptoms and to treat those symptoms by prescribing drug-based therapies that are similar for all patients with a given disease. Notice that the words patient and health do not appear in this description. The goal of Functional Medicine is to promote health and vitality in each patient. Practitioners examine each patient’s lifestyle and unique biochemical factors to identify the underlying causes of their disease and find treatments that help return patients to optimal health.

Conventional medicine separates doctors based on their specialties (e.g., neurology, gynecology, endocrinology), effectively arranging medical care into separate silos. Functional Nutrition is holistic, in that one clinician looks at all aspects of the patient, instead of saying, “Oh, that sounds like a hormone problem. That’s not my department.” 

Functional Nutrition is highly cost effective for patients, as it focuses on prevention and health promoting lifestyle changes and sustainable treatments that address the underlying causes of dysfunction, restoring patients to health. Conventional medical treatments often involve expensive medications that must be taken indefinitely and do not address the underlying problem, but merely suppress the symptoms.

Functional Nutrition is health-oriented holistic medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.

If you’re already studying and practicing integrative medicine, then you know something about whole-person modalities. Functional Nutrition provides an architecture that will help you organize and apply all that knowledge in a systematic way, digging deeper into the origins of disease and the determinants of health.

The Functional Nutrition model considers the diagnosis, of course, but also seeks to answer the question, “Why does this person have this illness?” The answer to this question is revealed by discovering the antecedents, triggers, and mediators that underlie symptoms, signs, illness behaviors, and demonstrable pathology. Further, medical genomics can identify the phenotypic expression of disease-related genes and their products, affording another lens through which to view illness. Chronic diseases cut across multiple organ systems, and this calls for a systematic method of viewing each patient.

Practitioners of Functional Nutrition use the Functional Medicine model to organize their findings. It’s a kind of flexible and adaptive information-gathering-and-sorting architecture for clinical practice that deepens the clinician’s understanding of the often overlapping ways things can go wrong. The patient’s story is organized according to eight underlying, connected mechanisms that influence health, which clarifies the level of present understanding and illuminates where further investigation is needed. An operating system guides clinicians through the entire process from gathering information to initiating treatment and tracking the patient’s progress.

All healthcare disciplines—including integrative medicine—can, to the degree allowed by their training and licensure, use a Functional Nutrition approach, including integrating the Functional Medicine operating system and tools to organize knowledge and recognize patterns. Functional Nutrition provides a common language and a unified model to facilitate integrated care.

Applying Functional Nutrition in Practice

Functional Nutrition offers a new approach to management and prevention of chronic disease that embodies the art and science of medicine. It integrates what we know about how the human body works with patient-centered, science-based care. Functional Nutrition addresses the causes of chronic disease, which are rooted in lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, and genetic influences. It also emphasizes the therapeutic partnership, which engages the heart, mind, and spirit of both practitioner and client, and encourages moments of deep insight that contribute to more comprehensive answers to stubborn, complex medical problems. Functional Nutrition offers a paradigm shift in clinical practice, thus producing a more effective response to chronic disease.

Why Functional Nutrition?

Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as a heart attack or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine is ill equipped to address complex, chronic disease. In most cases, the model does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual and does not allow time for exploring the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society; critical environmental factors such as stress, diet, and exposure to toxins. As a result, most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease, nor to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.

Functional Nutrition is a different approach, with methodology and tools that are specifically designed to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

Learn more about nutritionist certification online at

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Dr. Teresa Rispoli,
PhD., ND, LAc.

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