According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability and death worldwide.1 Nearly half of all adults in the United States suffer from one or more chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.2,3 As alarming as this sounds, the majority of these health conditions are largely preventable. Most chronic diseases in America are attributed to four things: poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking.2 Patients generally know that these factors impact health, but most are given generic advice, which is neither personalized nor practical.
Functional Nutrition is based on the premise that food is medicine, which has the power to prevent and reverse disease. As a registered dietitian, I have found the IFM Food Plans to be an invaluable resource in helping patients understand the why and how of nutrition and lifestyle change.
Clinical Examples: The How and Why
Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.
John is a client who was looking for the how of addressing his metabolic syndrome and history of high cholesterol. He had known for years that he needed to change his habits but was overwhelmed in knowing where to start. IFM’s Cardiometabolic Food Plan gave John a solid framework to begin making changes, like eating more fiber. Together, we crafted a plan to help lower his cholesterol and reduce his risk of heart disease.
Tracking Progress: John has been following the Cardiometabolic Food Plan for almost a year now. Since then, he has lowered his LDL cholesterol 40 points, increased his HDL cholesterol 10 points, and decreased his waist circumference by several inches. These days, John has more energy at work and looks forward to being more active with his wife.
Another client, Alex, was suffering with Crohn’s disease and searching for the why. Before I met Alex, he had several bowel surgeries, had taken steroids for over 20 years, and had cycled through multiple immunosuppressant drugs. For years, Alex had been told that diet had little impact on his Crohn’s disease. Six months after starting IFM’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet Food Plan, Alex was in remission with no measurable inflammation in his digestive system.
Tracking Progress: Alex has followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet Food Plan for over a year now. He continues to be in remission and has learned that nutrition has a profound impact on his microbiome, his digestion, and his overall health. Alex has shifted from living under the ever-present burden of disease to helping others with Crohn’s find their way back to health.
In order to help other patients like John and Alex, and to support nutrition professionals in the Functional Medicine ecosystem, IFM has collaborated with the American Nutrition Association (ANA) to develop a new online learning course called Therapeutic Food Plans: A Component of Personalized Nutrition. This 7.5-hour course offers a comprehensive practical training on personalizing IFM’s suite of therapeutic food plans. With the help of Therapeutic Food Plans: A Component of Personalized Nutrition, nutrition professionals can learn new ways to support chronic disease patients in their healing journey to achieve the highest expression of human health.
- World Health Organization. Integrated chronic disease prevention and control. Accessed February 28, 2020. https://www.who.int/chp/about/integrated_cd/en/
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. About chronic diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated October 23, 2019. Accessed February 28, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm
- US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. Nutrition and health are closely related. In: 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th ed. Published December 2015. Accessed February 28, 2020. https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/introduction/nutrition-and-health-are-closely-related/
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