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Back it Up: Your Path to Root Cause Resolution - Blog Image

Back it Up: Your Path to Root Cause Resolution

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2019-10-07

“Back it up” is the mantra I use to address cases with my clients, to support my nutrition team at the Functional Nutrition Alliance Clinic, and to guide the practitioners we train in Full Body Systems.

Not only is it a working mantra to help us resolve complex cases, it’s a phrase we use to enable clients to better understand what we do and what sets our work apart from more conventional clinicians.

Let me take a moment to explain what it really means to “back it up,” and how embodying this mantra can help you too.


When a patient comes to us with a complaint, we certainly want to help them feel better as quickly as possible. It’s tempting to look at their diagnosis, or their most pressing symptom, and try to head it off at the pass with some miracle nutrient or protocol. 

Yet, this approach rarely works because it often ignores myriad factors.

Embracing bioindividuality

People are very complex, and the causes of their suffering are unique. What leads anyone to a common sign, symptom or diagnosis, will depend on a person’s unique history and life circumstances that culminate in something that has a similar name. This is the principle of bioindividuality, and there are a multitude of factors that apply here.

Think of it this way: How many recipes can you find for chocolate cake? Patients are as varied as those recipes. Each is different and unique. Like this analogy, people have different “ingredients” that may lead to a result (sign, symptom, or diagnosis) with the same name.

When we go for a sexy solution — the “quick fix” or the super specific and targeted recommendation — we aren’t truly serving our clients. Yes, even when those agents may ultimately be part of the resolution!

What serves them, and you, is to start from the beginning. To “back it up.”

How to “back it up” for root cause resolution

In order to “back it up”, you have to ask the right questions, know how the body works, and have a trusted and Functional framework for systematically uncovering more information. It’s the process — the journey you take with your patient as a clinician — and the information you discover during that process that informs your next steps of care.

I liken it to building a house. Although you might know what color you want to paint your bedroom, you don’t paint before you build the bedroom itself. You don’t decorate with an organic wool rug before the floors are installed. You don’t put the second story on before the first. You don’t do anything before you lay the foundation. The foundation isn’t the most fun, or the prettiest. It’s not what gets your home featured in Dwell Magazine, but without it, your house cannot stand.

Health and healthcare are the same.

If the patient is to truly thrive, there are things you must do before any of the fun, complicated, cutting edge work can be done.

You have to look at things like nutrition and hydration, sleep and relaxation, exercise and movement. You “back it up” to the patient’s skillset that’s required to help them succeed. You make modifications based not on a protocol in a book or an idealized set of standards, but on the needs and resources of the individual. And, as a practitioner who cares about the importance of nutrition, you consider the role of digestion in optimizing the key nutrients you’re looking to incorporate through dietary modifications!

You “back it up” to their digestive capacities. 

And you “back it up” to basic physiological functions—like sleep, blood sugar balance and functional elimination.

That’s how you get to those roots, differentiate your care, and enable those that you serve to step into their healing potential.

You “back it up.”

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Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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