Bioindividuality in Practice: Functional Medicine and Nutrition Principles
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Bioindividuality in practice
In order to truly practice the principles of bioindividuality we need to understand the concept of what—in the Functional Nutrition Alliance community—we call “what’s going on in there?”
“What’s going on in there?” is different than what’s supposed to be going on in there, or what the textbooks say is probably going on in there. It’s an inquiry that, when practiced properly, removes our filters, biases, and that seductive mindset of “I already have the answer so I don’t have to listen to the rest of my client’s story.”
The power of “what’s going on in there?”
When you honestly ask “What’s going on in there?” and listen for clues, you open the doors to uncover new and pivotal information about the individual you’re working with. It’s a mindset shift that allows you to align food and lifestyle modifications to the person’s unique needs. In other words, we learn to appropriately tailor our therapies to suit the requirements of the actual patient seeking our help.
Bioindividuality: Where everything meets physiology
The precept of bioindividuality allows us to see that every single remedy (natural or otherwise) will impact each person differently. We think of it as the place where “food meets physiology”, but really, it’s about where everything meets physiology. Think about it for a moment…
Two individuals can suffer similar life injustices—adverse childhood events, the death of a spouse, food poisoning on a trip out of their home country, or even exposure to gluten after abstaining for six months—and yet respond distinctly from one another. That specific response is due to bioindividuality.
Though we all primarily have the same organs and glands, we each have a unique operation manual due to the cumulative life experiences and exposures we’ve had—a beautifully knit web of genetics, history and choices.
We are all biologically and genetically unique and we’re all impacted by myriad and diverse life experiences and exposures.
Your clients will have different responses to the same stimulus. Your job is to listen intently for those unique responses, and then use your knowledge of bioindividuality and physiology to uncover what’s really going on in this client’s body.
Origins of bioindividuality: Biochemical individuality
The word bioindividualty comes from the term biochemical individuality, coined by the biochemist Dr. Roger Williams Ph.D, in his book by the same name, back in 1956. The concepts in that book have carried forward and helped shape the foundations of Functional Medicine.
Biochemical individuality is the perspective that the chemical and nutritional profile of each individual is distinct, therefore requiring that dietary and other needs be adjusted from person to person. This unique biochemical make-up arises from variations in genetic structures, nutrition, and a range of environmental exposures.
Embracing personal evidence and unique physiology
This is one reason why bioindividuality and personal evidence (vs study evidence alone) are so important. Each of us has unique physiology and we each react to food (and all other inputs) differently.
My advice: Pay heed to the individual for the best results in practice!
Bioindividuality is a core concept of Functional Medicine and therefore Functional Nutrition. Simply put, we acknowledge that because individuals are biologically and genetically unique, treatment plans and recommendations should be unique.
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Part 2: What’s Functional and what’s NOT?
Part 3: What’s Functional and what’s not
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