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Introduction to Functional Nutrition: Clinical Solutions for Addressing the Underlying Causes of Disease

Online Course
Up to 1.5 CME Credit
  • Only the CME option is eligible for commensurate CME or CPD credits. More Info
  • This course is approximately 1.5 hours.

Today’s Landscape

Recognizing Nutrition-Related Concerns as a Significant Cause of Chronic Disease

Practitioners around the world are seeing patients every day that suffer from chronic diseases. These patients experience increased inflammation, metabolic disturbance, elevated autoimmune activity, energy deficits, and often have altered body composition as a result. Many of these issues are related to diet and nutrition: we are living in an era where over-consumption is ironically coupled with undernutrition due to diets devoid of nutrient diversity. These emerging nutrition insufficiencies are seen in both the developed and the developing world.

The evidence is compelling that the root cause of most chronic disorders lies within our lifestyle choices, particularly our daily food choices.1

Socioeconomics impacts food security, and the purported solution of industrialized farming and commercial food production has played a key role in making poor-quality foods more available and affordable. As the shelf life and stability of processed foods have increased, the quality of food consumed has declined. Healthy dietary choices, appropriate meal timing, and an improved quality of food all impact the trajectory of disease and can support the return of patients toward optimal health.

Deficits in Nutrition Education

Primary care physicians recognize the lack of adequate training in nutrition, as most identify nutrition education as a significant gap in their medical training. In fact, the number of US medical schools requiring nutrition education and the average hours spent on nutrition education have both declined in the last 10 years.2

Implementing Functional Nutrition in clinical practice, which applies food as medicine, provides a system for primary care providers and nutrition professionals alike to adequately assess nutrition status and to offer a personalized approach to nutritional therapies that will address the factors underlying chronic disease.

Additional Information

Course Overview

Introduction to Functional Nutrition is a 1.5 hour, online, interactive course that trains healthcare providers in the advanced practice of personalized nutrition assessment, diagnosis, intervention, and monitoring, with the goals of promoting optimal health and preventing diet-and lifestyle-related disease. It emphasizes the importance of high-quality foods and phytonutrient diversity to address clinical imbalances and move individuals toward the highest expression of health.

This course is a first step in offering physicians and nutrition professionals an overview of the ABCDs of Functional Nutrition Evaluation, a step-by-step system that guides practitioners in the what and how of assessing nutrition status. Experts will demonstrate elements of the nutrition physical exam as well as how those exam findings suggest specific nutritional insufficiencies. The course will also explore how common laboratory tests can be used to glean detailed information about nutritional status.

Resources included in the course allow clinicians to immediately apply the principles of Functional Nutrition. The course also introduces the Functional Nutrition Operating System, which directs clinicians in how to gather pertinent information to determine the patient’s nutrition status, how to organize those nutritional findings, and how foundational dietary and nutrition interventions can be used to initiate care (GOI). Experts will illustrate how the Proteins, Fats, and Carbs—Minerals, Vitamins, and Phytonutrients (PFC-MVP) model can be used to identify nutrition-related concerns and lead to appropriate personalized dietary treatment, as well as to help practitioners determine where to begin with patient education and dietary guidance. A case study will model the entire process, showing how Functional Nutrition offers solutions for organizing information and then initiating appropriate changes to both diet and lifestyle.

Included in Course

  • 1.5 hours of CME credit
  • Interactive learning experiences presented by experts, including an exploration of the ABCDs of Functional Nutrition Evaluation and the Functional Nutrition Fundamentals
  • Interactive case study in which you choose the clinical course of action
  • Eleven Foundational IFM Functional Nutrition Course Materials to incorporate into your practice, including intake forms, clinical tools, and patient education handouts
  • Tips from Functional Medicine practitioners on integrating Functional Nutrition into clinical practice

Learning Objectives

  • Evaluate the role nutrition plays in causing dysfunction and restoring health in patients with chronic disease.
  • Describe how functional nutrition can be used to evaluate patients for nutritional insufficiencies and direct individualized interventions that lead to improved health in patients with chronic diseases.


Your takeaways from the Introduction to Functional Nutrition eLearning course will include the ability to:

  • Utilize the Functional Nutrition Operating System (Gather, Organize, and Initiate Care).
  • Explain the clinical implementation of Functional Nutrition to patients and colleagues.
  • Describe the ABCDs of the Functional Nutrition Evaluation process (Anthropometrics, Biomarkers and Functional Labs, Clinical Indicators from Physical Exam, and the Diet, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Journal).
  • Evaluate how food is energy, information, connection, and medicine and the various ways we relate to food.
  • Recommend dietary plans and offer foundational patient education using the “Functional Medicine Prescription.”
  • Implement Functional Nutrition tools.

CME Information

The CME option is intended for clinicians who need to fulfill continuing education requirements. If you do not need CME credits, you may purchase the non-CME option.

For information on applicability and acceptance of continuing education credit for this activity, please consult your professional licensing board or other credentialing organization regarding the acceptance of AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM from ACCME-accredited organizations.

IFM is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


The Institute for Functional Medicine designates this activity for 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Release and Termination Date

Release Date: April 12, 2015
Last Reviewed Date: October 07, 2020
Termination Date: October 07, 2023


  1. World Health Organization. Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Disease. Report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/trs/who_trs_916.pdf. Accessed February 26, 2015.
  2. Adams KM, Kohlmeier M, Zeisel SH. Nutrition education in U.S. medical schools: latest update of a national survey. Acad Med. 2010 Sep;85(9):1537–42.

Delivery and Return Policy

  • Your course will be delivered electronically to your online account directly upon purchase.
  • You will have access to the course for 1 year from the date of purchase.
  • Cancellations and extensions can only be processed manually, requests should be submitted via email or over the phone