4 Steps To Better Health, From A Functional Nutrition Perspective

Food & Nutrition Writer By Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A
Food & Nutrition Writer
Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A, is a journalist, IIN graduate integrative health coach, E-RYT 500 lead yoga teacher, and 500-Hour certified Pilates instructor.
4 Key Steps To Better Health, From A Functional Nutrition Perspective

When it comes to mapping our way to optimal health, one of the best places to start from is understanding what makes our entire body thrive. That is, turning our attention to each aspect of our being—mind, body, spirit, environment—along with the habits and routines that help us promote overall wellness. While navigating the road to better health, it's also important to remember that everybody has vastly complex and different bodies, needs, and backgrounds.

One powerful tool in this journey? Functional nutrition, which uses an individual-centered approach to care and chronic disease management. This nutrition method looks at each patient holistically, considering the various factors affecting their quest for health—from dietary and lifestyle choices to nutritional deficiencies and genetic makeup.

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This principle is a cornerstone of mbg's Functional Nutrition Coaching Program, which offers a comprehensive curriculum on functional nutrition, taught by some of the world's foremost health experts. In the program, you learn that a significant part of our healthy living experience results from the small but mighty decisions we make every day in alignment with our unique individuality. To get you started on this path, we've put together four simple but transformative steps to better health, inspired by key points in the program. Try to incorporate these into your wellness journey to support superb, sustainable well-being:

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1. Embrace food as a tool.

Functional nutrition uses food to help restore health, promote balance, improve function, and prevent disease. Food is also considered the most critical tool within the functional medicine toolbox because of its vital influence on every aspect of whole-body wellness.

While food interventions and nutritional guidelines vary considerably among individuals, here are a few general functional nutrition tenets we all could benefit from:

  • Opt for real, unprocessed foods.
  • Limit sugary foods and beverages.
  • Fill 75% of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables.
  • Make healthy fats (think salmon, avocado, and chia seeds) a part of your daily routine.
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow.
  • Spice it up!
  • Upgrade your snacks.
  • Enjoy the pleasure of eating.

2. Work to keep inflammation at bay.

Inflammation is an integral part of the body's inherent defense system; in small amounts (also known as acute inflammation) it helps the body defend and heal itself from infection or injury. However, chronic inflammation can be problematic for well-being. Functional medicine practitioners believe most (if not all) chronic diseases stem from this inner imbalance, which is why a healthy diet and lifestyle are imperative for restoring wellness from within.

Here are a few anti-inflammatory tips to consider:

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3. Get adequate sleep.

Another keystone of optimal health is sleep, and the many roles it plays within our body-brain connection. The National Sleep Foundation defines quality sleep as falling asleep within a 30-minute gap, staying asleep throughout the night with a maximum of one mid-sleep wake-up, and being able to fall back to sleep in 20 minutes after that one wake-up.

Sleep affects every other system in the body, which is why prioritizing sleep and getting in sync with our sleep cadence is a crucial step toward overall health. Thankfully, there are many ways to prime your way to better-quality rest, from dietary shifts to establishing sleep hygiene rituals (read more about sleep-promoting techniques here).

4. Move your body.

From sustaining prime cognitive function through life to promoting cardiovascular health and longevity, moving the body every day is a nonnegotiable cornerstone of better health. Our bodies are designed to move all day, so it's essential to make an effort to give your body what it instinctively craves. Here's a great way to incorporate movement into your day—and consider giving our mbg moves workout routines a try.

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The takeaway.

The steps we take toward feeling better and creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle might not seem enormous, but they can still produce life-brightening results over time. Because health is an ever-going, self-inquisitive process informed by the daily choices you make, there is always room for exploration and evolution to take place. Start with the four steps above, and see where your journey takes you from there!

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