Integrative medicine combines Western approaches to medicine with more traditional ways of caring for the body and mind. These practices, when used together, can improve a patient’s quality of life. For instance, cancer patients often need treatment with chemotherapy, a type of Western medicine. However, they can also benefit from nutrition therapy and acupuncture, which can help them keep their energy up and experience less pain.
Functional nutrition, a type of functional medicine, focuses on using healthy, natural foods to help people improve their health. Functional nutritionists provide flexible, individualized care to each person based on their needs. Each person may have a different functional nutrition treatment based on what will be most effective to improve their physical, mental and even spiritual health.
Integrative healthcare brings together Western approaches to medicine, such as chemotherapy, surgery and other medicines, and combines them with more traditional, complementary approaches like nutrition, acupuncture and more. Integrative healthcare practitioners carefully coordinate these two approaches to treatment in order to care for all of their patients’ needs.
As a nutritionist, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition research to provide your clients with evidence-based care. Every day, new scientific research reveals the benefits or harmful effects of foods, from coffee and alcohol, to organic fruits and vegetables. Education for nutritionist can help you stay on top of the latest information, but you can read research on your own, too.
Healthcare is constantly changing and transforming as we learn more about ourselves and how the body works. As we understand more about the role nutrition plays in health, such as controlling chronic diseases like diabetes or Celiac disease, nutritionists are playing a vital role in keeping patients healthy and happy.
Julie Shivley is the newest member of the PCC Functional Nutrition team and will be teaching the Childbearing years component of Life Stages module.
Michelle Harreld, MScN is an instructor with PCC's Institute for Health Professionals. She teaches the Nutritional Counseling Skills module in Functional Nutrition.
Tammera J. Karr teaches the Holistic Nutritional Therapy module in the Functional Nutrition program at the Institute for Health Professionals.
The integration of functional nutrition with your massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic practice satisfies the whole-body approach and belief that our body systems are complex and interdependent. The whole-body approach — or functional medicine — does not divide the body into multiple systems, but rather looks for “the root cause of a collection of symptoms.” Integrating holistic practices can greatly benefit your clients and patients on their journeys toward wellness.