Functional Perspectives on Food and Nutrition

Dr Gesik and I recently returned from San Francisco, where we attended the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Annual International Conference. This year’s theme ‘Functional Perspectives on Food and Nutrition: The Ultimate Upstream Medicine’ covered many interesting and inspiring topics connected to nutrition, food, health and wellness.

I would never have imagined that I would ever get this excited to reflect on three full days spent in the conference halls of a hotel. But, excited I am! With speakers such as Mark Hyman, Michael Pollen and Joel Fuhrman, whose contagious passion for health and food justice is equally matched by their competency and knowledge, how could one not be? And then you throw in tantalizing topics such as food addiction, gut microbiome, nutrient density, epigenitics and food psychology and it’s difficult not to fall off of your seat with excitement!


It was so great to meet Dr Joel Fuhrman at the conference. Dr Fuhrman is the author of Eat to Live and many other books. He coined the term ‘nutritarian’ and started the Whole Foods ‘Health Starts Here’ brand.

Perhaps you’re not as much of a food and health nerd as I am and you’re finding this all a little less than exhilarating. That’s okay, because I am determined to share this knowledge with the world in a fun and understandable way, to guide clients on their path to a healthier life and to inspire and motivate others to live their best possible lives.

Here are five tasty take-home points that I gathered from the conference:

1.  What’s good for your health is good for the health of your community is good for the planet.  Buying local food supports your local economy and community. Shopping at farmers markets and local food co-ops is a great way to connect with your local community. Eating less animal products reduces greenhouse gas emissions and reduces your risk of chronic disease. These are many other examples that show that what’s good for us seems to be good for the planet too.

2. Cook more. One of the best things that you can do for your health is to cook more at home and avoid eating highly processed foods. The jury is still out on what the perfect diet is, but we know that if we eat real food, prepared and cooked in our kitchens, it is almost always more healthful than eating highly processed food that is high in sugar, salt, fat and chemicals. The food industry’s goal is to make a profit, not to look after your health and the health of your family. Take back your health and the health of your family by cooking more. It really is that simple!

3. Eat more colors of the rainbow.  Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of phytonutrients, along with whole grains, legumes, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, and teas. Phytonutrients are natural plant compounds that act as powerful defenders of health. Studies show that people who eat more plant foods have a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Phytonutrients in food come in all different colors—green, yellow-orange, red, blue-purple, and white. To promote good health, it is important to eat fruits and vegetables of varied color each day. (Source: Institute for Functional Medicine Phytonutrient Spectrum: Comprehensive Guide)

Red foods contain phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk for certain cancers, along with helping to protect the brain, heart, liver, and immune system.

Red foods contain phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk for certain cancers, along with helping to protect the brain, heart, liver, and immune system.

4.  Most highly processed foods are addictive. This is because they’re loaded with salt, sugar and fat and are engineered to be addictive. You can only white knuckle it for so long before you give in. It is NOT a matter of will power – it is about eating the right kinds of food that will not make you addicted and that will not wreak havoc with your metabolic system.

5. Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates. Sugar and foods that act like sugar in your body are addictive and keep you fat and sick.  Even though experts have differing views on the percentage of each macronutrient (and animal protein) required for optimal health and weight loss, all experts agree that refined sugar and refined carbohydrates are best kept at a minimum.

I’d love to meet you and learn how I might be able to guide you in reaching your health and wellness goals. Please e-mail me at  

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