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  • Writer's pictureDr. Teresa Rispoli

Learn How to Become A Functional Nutritionist Online in Your Own Time

Teresa Rispoli, ND, L.Ac, PhD. Functional medicine is a “systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Bringing back proper function of all systems of the body to peak performance is the goal. Dysfunction and ill health can be the result of one or more causes. Each cause depends of the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle and treatments addressing the right cause will have lasting benefits beyond just symptom suppression. Functional medicine takes the approach of looking at one condition with multiple causes and one cause with multiple conditions. There is not just one root cause for a condition. It’s multi-factorial and should be looked at as a whole versus one individual part.

What is a Functional Nutritionist?

A Functional Nutritionist does everything a Functional Medicine Practitioner does, but takes it to a whole new level by incorporating “Restorative Medicine.” This is holistic approach to health by incorporating food, sleep, stress, fitness, and toxic environmental factors, in the effort to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Functional Nutritionists use a systems-oriented approach by reviewing behaviors that may contribute to long-term health problems. By looking at all of these components, the functional nutritionist can use science, clinical expertise, and nutrition tools to encourage behavior modification and change to correct the root cause of the illness. What is Restorative Medicine? Think of the word “restorative”. A Functional Nutritionist seeks to restore peak performance of all systems of the body using a holistic approach to health by restoring proper gut function; eliminating dysbiosis, poor digestion, addressing Leaky Gut, SIBO, Candida or other infections as well as Biofilms. Functional Nutritionists recognize that certain foods can disrupt gut function and cause inflammation; therefore, they incorporate “Therapeutic Diets”, and seek to reduce inflammation which can cause many illnesses. They improve sleep hygiene, stress management, fitness, and reduce toxic environmental factors, all in an effort to reduce the risk of chronic disease. They balance hormones with natural approaches, reducing the risk of cancer. Hormones include thyroid, adrenal, and endocrine (sex) hormones. They improve brain function through diet and lifestyle changes. They use epigenetics and genetic testing to avoid triggering gene expression, so their client will know what foods to avoid, or which are best , what medicines may be harmful, what nutritional supplements will help, what exercises are best incorporated all based on their genes. Functional Nutritionist use a systems –oriented approach while recognizing the web-like connections between systems and reviewing behaviors that may contribute to long-term health problems. By looking at all of these components, the Functional Nutritionist can use science, Functional laboratory Tests, clinical expertise, and nutrition tools to bring back proper function of all systems of the body to peak performance, encourage behavior modification and change to correct the root (underlying) cause of the illness, which often has a root in poor diet, the wrong diet and poor lifestyle choices.

The Seven Biological Systems of the Functional Medicine Matrix

The patient is looked at as an individual with individual needs and issues, therefore the practice is patient-centered and focuses on the Functional Medicine Matrix which us used to ask deeper questions as to the nature of the individual’ s health challenges. These are questions that are asked after the initial evaluation questions is filled out. The Matrix looks at seven biological systems of the body that can cause damage and lead to illness, and that can repair the damage caused by a disease or illness.

  • Assimilation: Looking at the digestion, absorption, and gut health of the client is the first course of action. 70% of the immune system resides in the gut, so having a healthy gut can assist with reducing the risk of disease and illness.

  • Defense and repair: Focusing on immune health, inflammation, and infections within the microbiota can assist with optimizing health and wellness.

  • Energy: Determining mitochondrial function and energy and stress levels to assist with overall health is important in order to improve quality of life.

  • Biotransformation and elimination: Many functional nutritionists practice forms of eliminating specific foods that may contribute to chronic inflammation or illnesses, while improving digestion and elimination.

  • Transport: Looking at the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems in order to ensure that adequate blood flow and support is happening in the body and there are no blocked arteries or congested lymphatics.

  • Communication: Making sure all the systems within the body are communicating with one another in a supportive fashion such as the neurotransmitters within the brain and immune messengers within the gut. There is a gut-brain connection.

  • Structural integrity: Considering the body is structurally secure from the subcellular membranes to the musculoskeletal is also important.

The body is a whole. Having one fundamental imbalance can result in multiple negative symptoms. In addition, one condition could result in multiple imbalances.

Functional nutritionists incorporate the motto, “Food is Medicine,” in their practice when providing client-centered care. They take a functional approach to emphasizing the importance of high-quality foods and nutrients which can be used to address these imbalances.

By taking a closer look at the person as a whole, the functional nutritionist can provide an in-depth approach that incorporates all seven layers of the matrix to determine the root cause of the health challenge.. This approach guides the Functional Nutritionist in what plan of action needs to implemented to guide the individual back to peak functions.

How to Become a Functional Nutritionist

Functional Nutritionist Academy offers a fast track on-boarding step-by-step state of the art approach to becoming a Board Certified Functional Nutritionist For information go to :

They provide an online board certification program accredited and recognized by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) certification No. 17204112 and the International Certification and Accreditation Board. The course also offers continuing education units (CEU’s) for Acupuncturists, Chiropracters and Naturopaths. Areas of Study Include:

· Targeted Evaluation Questions and Assessments. PDF’s provided

· Functional Laboratory Tests and evaluation with case studies. A portal to order tests

· Gut Restoration Steps: healing Leaky Gut, SIBO, Candida, food allergies

· Natural Hormone Balancing; including thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.

· Improving Brain Function, preventing & reversing Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADHA, anxiety

· Reversing Autoimmune Illness; Hashimoto’s, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

· Done-for-you diet and supplement protocols and Lifestyle coaching practices

· Understanding Your Genetic Code to Prevent Gene Expression of Inherited

· Diseases and gives you answers and solutions to why your brain or body is not in balance, why you don’t do well on certain medicines, foods or nutrients, what supplements or exercises are best for you

· How to set of your office and market yourself online using social media

After passing the exams, you are a Board-Certified Functional Nutritionist (CFN).

Jobs for a Functional Nutritionist There are many job opportunities for Functional Nutritionists. Check out what the credential can lead to:

  • Private Practice Functional Nutritionist – work for another practitioner or own your personal private practice providing services to clients.

  • Virtual Functional Nutrition Practice – provide telehealth via zoom, skype, video chat or telephone

  • Functional Nutritionist at a Clinic – join a clinic with other practitioners to have an interdisciplinary support system in place such as a functional medical doctor, acupuncturist, physical therapist, and more.

  • Functional Nutritionist at a Corporation – work at a corporation providing onsite care to employees through a wellness program.

  • Functional Nutritionist at a Hospital – innovative and forward-thinking health institutions and hospitals are providing holistic and integrative medicine incorporating functional medicine and nutritionists into the organization and practice.

  • Faculty Professor/Teacher – teach classes and courses at a college, university, or educational institution. Help others gain the education they need to practice functional medicine and nutrition.

  • Functional Nutritionist Research Scientist – conduct research and studies for new and innovative theories to provide field-specific and technical expertise.

Functional Nutritionist Salaries

Functional Nutritionist Salaries range in pay based on location and type of practice.

Depending on the type of job you have such as working for a corporation, hospital, educational institution, clinic, or private practice, salaries will vary.

According to ZipRecruiter, functional nutritionist salaries range from about $80,000 to $136,500 annually with a high of $168,500 annually.

The national average annual salary is $150,705.

Working in a private practice generally pays the highest for a functional nutritionist.

There are also many opportunities for virtual work for the functional nutritionist.

Finding a Job as a Functional Nutritionist

Once you become certified and credentialed, you are ready to find work. Here are 7 tips on how to find a Job as a Functional Nutritionist.

  • Network. Network. Network. Like all careers, who you know within the community matters. Having a person refer you to a specific job can increase your chances of getting the job from the personal recommendation. Spend time networking and meeting new people within the industry.

  • Join Functional Medicine and Nutritionist Groups. Integrative andFunctional Medicine Practice Groups, newsletters, access to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, mentoring services, listservs, and more.

  • Get Listed on a Health Network Directory Sites. Online Health Directory Sites such as HealthProfs provide easy access for people to search for practitioners based on specialty and location. These directory sites are a great way to advertise services and increase clients.

  • Create an All-Star LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is the #1 job search social platform. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and stellar.

  • Job Alerts. Sign up for notifications on job search websites like NutritionJobs to get notified when jobs get posted in your location and area of choice.

  • Volunteer. Volunteering within the industry allows you to meet more people while also gaining experience. Turn the volunteer experience into a form of networking and that volunteer position could also potentially lead to a job opportunity.

About the Author

Teresa Rispoli, ND, L.Ac, Ph.D. is a Naturopath, Functional Nutritionist, Acupuncturist, Specializing in Gut, Digestive health, Chronic Health Issues, Natural Hormone Balancing, Anti-Aging & Functional Medicine. She writes articles for multiple publications, provides customized nutrition coaching. She is founder of Functional Nutritionist Academy. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn.

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 Functional  Medicine & Functional Nutrition Alternative Healing (818)-707-3126

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

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