A Functional Nutrition Approach to Neurodegenerative Diseases
Posted by Heather McCue
If you’ve been considering a career as a Functional Nutrition Counselor, you’ve likely heard about neurodegenerative diseases. However, if that term isn’t familiar to you, perhaps you’ve heard of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These are some of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, and each year approximately 50 million Americans are affected, with about 1 million having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the US in 2020, and an estimated 6.2 million with Alzheimer’s.
As Certified Functional Nutrition Counselors with Full Body Systems, we recognize that our role is not to make a diagnosis. Instead, our scope of practice allows us to fill the GAPs in the healthcare system and practice the art and science of Functional Nutrition. In this way, we serve our clients and patients through leadership and guidance towards sustainable health outcomes. As we address the root cause of dysfunction, we help the body restore balance and alleviate challenging symptoms.
What is Neurodegeneration?
As the name suggests, neurodegeneration affects the neural cells in the brain. Over time, those cells eventually become less functional and die. During training in the Full Body Systems program, students learn that each body system works in symbiosis with the other systems. In other words, the brain doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and so much work can be done using food and lifestyle modification to bring the body back to its Functional state.
Be Aware of the Traps
You may find that this population (and many others) will come to you in search of a quick fix to their suffering. As a result, many counselors find themselves in the trap of trying to solve X for Y. It’s just one of the many traps Functional Nutrition Counselors may fall into when making assessments and care recommendations.
Full Body Systems creator and world-renowned Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nakayama teaches about these traps of practicing throughout the program and how to stay within our scope of practice so we can serve, not please, our clients.
Andrea recently hosted her award-winning podcast, the 15-Minute Matrix, with neurodegeneration expert and researcher Dr. Dale Bredesen to provide deep insight and conversation into this topic and explain how we can Map signs and symptoms of a common neurodegenerative disease from a Functional lens.
During the podcast episode Dr. Bredesen shares with Andrea his analogy of the common neurodegenerative diseases to having 36 holes in a roof. You can’t just plug one and expect the problem to be solved. These conditions require a Functional approach, one that can be filled by a Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor.
Risk Factors for Neurodegeneration
In Full Body Systems, students are trained to use a whole-person, system-based approach to assessing risk factors and, more importantly, to get to the root causes of suffering by digging deeper into the patient’s story. Utilizing this ‘back it up’ approach provides coaches and clinicians an opportunity to sit in a seat of leadership and act as a guide towards sustainable solutions.
It also serves as a reminder that just as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to care and as a Full Body System Counselor, it’s important to recognize each individual and their unique circumstance.
Your Role in Addressing Signs and Symptoms
The need to fill the GAPs in the current healthcare system continues to grow as more and more people continue to suffer from unresolved signs and symptoms. Whether a client or patient comes to you with a common neurodegenerative disease or other unresolved health issues, as a Full Body Systems Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor, you will have the framework, tools, and support to get to the root causes of their suffering.
Let’s change the way we do healthcare, together!
Read more from the Functional Nutrition Alliance:
Brown, R. C., Lockwood, A. H., & Sonawane, B. R. (2005). Neurodegenerative diseases: an overview of environmental risk factors. Environmental health perspectives, 113(9), 1250–1256. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.7567
Parkinson’s Statistics (2022). Parkinson’s Foundation. https://www.parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Statistics
2021 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. (2021). Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 17(3), 327–406. https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.123286.2 million est w/Alzheimer’s
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