Functional Nutrition: Tips to Find a Great Health Coach
Functional Nutrition and Functional Medicine are two relatively new concepts in the health world. This health practice revolves around the idea of getting to the root cause of disease processes in the body rather than treating the symptoms.
By identifying deeper mechanisms that prevent the body from functioning at its peak, we can support the systems that need it. In turn, the body can heal itself more effectively. It is this kind of approach that has been extremely helpful for improving conditions that previously have had no treatment options.
Because the functional nutrition approach looks at the body as a summation of systems rather than overly specific mechanisms, it is able to take a truly holistic approach towards health. You will likely even discover unexpected, hidden causes of disease that are pushing your body towards metabolic chaos. In this article, you will learn some of the things to consider when looking for a functional nutrition practitioner.
The Complexity of Health
The body is complex. It is one system comprised of hundreds of smaller systems all operating in synchronicity to keep you healthy. So you can see how using a nasal spray for a head cold may be short-sighted. Not to say that it can’t be helpful, but why wasn’t the body able to prevent it from occurring?
What systems in the body are responsible for fighting off infections and how can they be supported to prevent this from happening again?
These are the kinds of questions a functional nutrition or functional medicine practitioner asks themselves when they work with someone who is dealing with a health challenge.
As an example, the video below goes into how a common functional lab test (the Organic Acids Test) is able to uncover several potential reasons for poor healing in the body.
A functional nutrition or functional medicine practitioner will work with you to investigate the underlying causes of your health issues, then help you design a multi-factorial approach to supporting the body in healing itself. A typical coaching plan would likely consist of the following:
1) Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition and Lifestyle Plan:
Based on your health history and symptoms your functional nutrition coach will help you customize an anti-inflammatory nutrition and lifestyle plan to reduce inflammation and start the healing process
2) Run Specific Functional Labs:
Your functional nutrition coach will help you identify specific labs that will help identify the root causes of your health challenges. These labs may include looking at factors such as:
Stress and Sex hormones
Markers of Inflammation
Leaky Gut and Gut Infections
Your practitioner will likely either have a set package they like to work with or will work with you to determine which labs will benefit you the most.
3) Review Lab Results:
Your functional nutrition coach will help you understand the lab findings and tweak and better customize your nutrition and lifestyle plan along with targeted supplements to reduce root cause issues in the body.
4) Ongoing Coaching:
Your functional nutrition coach will be routinely monitoring your health status and help you troubleshoot any roadblocks that come your way as you follow your specific healing plan and will run follow up labs to observe changes in the root cause health challenges as you improve your health.
The ultimate goal of a great health coach is to empower you with a sense of self-sufficiency and mastery of your health that you can carry with you for life!
Finding a Local Functional Nutrition Practitioner
Finding a functional nutrition practitioner locally is simple. Chances are someone who works at your local health food store knows one! Other ways to search for a local functional nutrition practitioner include:
- Finding a chiropractic office that has a functional nutrition practitioner on staff
- Doing a web search containing the terms “Functional Nutrition” and the name of the area you live. For example, “Functional Nutrition Kansas City” or “Functional Nutrition New York”
Generally, using these two methods, you should at least be able to find someone local who engages in something similar to functional nutrition. I will tell you now though… not all functional nutrition, functional medicine, or natural health practitioners are equal.
In a moment, we will discuss the qualities you should look for when choosing a practitioner to work with.
Virtual Health Coaching
You may or may not be aware of this but long-distance or virtual health coaching is actually a growing field. With the increasingly high demands of our lives, it can just be so much more convenient to consult with your functional nutrition practitioner by phone or video chat (whether you’re on the go or laid back in your pajamas in the comfort of your own home).
You might think that working this way would be cluttered but it’s actually super simple.
Most often, these practitioners offer a free intro call to discuss how their plan works. When it is time to order functional lab work, all you do is make a simple online order, the kits show up at your doorstep, and you simply follow the included directions. You complete these labs at home, ship them back to the laboratory, and within a few weeks, you’re on the phone speaking with your functional nutrition practitioner putting together a game plan!
In addition to being more convenient, online health coaching also gives you a wider selection of practitioners to choose from. This puts you in control of the experience. Next, we will cover the critical questions to ask your potential health coach in order to determine if they are the best option for you. If you are a practitioner or would like to be a functional health coach check out this article on iapwellnesscoach.com for the best health coaching programs available.
What to Look For
Check Out Their Website
Most reputable health coaches have an online presence these days. Whether they have a website or some kind of social media page, this is how you can become familiar with their personality and health philosophy before even getting in touch with them.
For example, on DrJockers.com you can easily get an idea of how we would go about supporting the body in healing things like Autoimmunity, Cancer, Digestive Issues, Parasite Infections, weight loss, and so much more.
You can also check out each one of our health coaches and read about their stories and philosophy when it comes to working with people one-on-one. More on that at the bottom of this article.
If a health coach expects you to work with them without knowing anything about their coaching process, be very cautious. Be sure to check out their social media pages and read their content or watch the videos they are putting out to get a good feel for their health philosophy and health strategies.
You really want a coach or a team of coaches that share similar values as you do because you will resonate with them and connect with their style more effectively. If you don’t follow me already, you can keep up with me on my facebook page here or Instagram page here.
Look for Reputable Credentials and RESULTS
There are now several different methods for getting into the functional nutrition field. Unlike traditional nutritionists, functional nutrition is not something learned in public institutions. Rather, several private certifications exist that operate on a similar functional nutrition framework.
Ideally, you will want to find someone who has been certified by an institution who has an established record of GETTING RESULTS with people.
People can try to sell you things all day, but results speak for themselves. You should be able to find a health coach that gets results using their methods. Oftentimes, those who get the results will display them on their website or social media page on a regular basis.
I can’t emphasize this enough, be wary of those that make claims without showing the results to back it up!
Experience and Expertise
If you’re going to invest in your health, you want a solid return on that investment. Look for a functional nutrition practitioner who either has years of experience working with clients or has been trained and mentored by someone who has.
The thing about functional nutrition is that not everyone is the same. The more you work with people, the more you realize that not everyone responds the same way to the same protocols. In fact, what works really well for one person, may cause a negative reaction in someone else.
An experienced practitioner will be able to identify these reactions quickly and shift your plan accordingly to maximize chances of success.
Interviewing Your Potential Health Coach
Getting on the phone for a short intro call can go a long way. You can use this opportunity to figure out if you are a good fit for their program. Many practitioners offer a 10-15 minute phone call for this purpose. If you are strategic with your questions, you can get a really good idea of whether or not you want to work with them. Below are some vital questions to ask when looking for a functional nutrition practitioner.
Do you believe nutrition and lifestyle play a huge role in overall health?
Are you familiar with an autoimmune elimination diet? A leaky gut diet? A ketogenic diet?
Do you recommend specific functional lab testing to find the root cause of major health issues?
You can even ask which testing would likely be the most beneficial depending on your specific health challenges.
What could we realistically achieve health-wise on a plan together?
This goes both ways. As the potential client, don’t expect miracles. On the other hand, if a health coach tells you they can cure you of all disease, be very cautious about starting a plan with them. With time and persistence, making the right changes can help put your body back into a state of healing. No magic bullets here, just a reliable process!
Things to Avoid
When it comes down to it, we still live in a very competitive and money-driven society. That being said, there are those who are in the field of functional nutrition who are either looking to maximize income or simply do not understand the true complexity and holistic nature of health coaching. The following are things to look out for.
Over-Simplified Approaches (Magic Bullets)
Your health is not determined by a single diet, food, or supplement. Many people sell their products or service with a HUGE promise. I would be weary of this as the journey to health must be a multi-therapeutic, holistic approach and it takes time to heal.
Nutrition, lifestyle, supplements, stress levels, sleep patterns, the light you expose your body to, your exposure to toxins, and whole list of other things can alter your health. Learning these things will empower you to be healthy forever.
Over-Reliance on Supplements
A health coach should understand that your health results will be 70-80% based around your lifestyle habits. Supplements can be great at accelerating the healing process, but they are to be used in addition to a healthy nutrition plan and lifestyle.
A roof is great but before you can build a roof, you need a house underneath it! Food and your everyday habits are the foundation to your health, supplements are great after that has been set in place.
Radical Alternative Treatments
There are many fringe therapies out there. Some work, some don’t. However, look for someone who is going to work on the basics first.
Nutrition and everyday lifestyle choices are your foundation so start there! If your coach has the intention to teach you how to keep yourself healthy forever, they will focus on the basics first!
What is a headache a symptom of? Well… I could probably think of 10 different potential reasons. What about chronic headaches? Chronic fatigue? The truth is… a symptom doesn’t tell you much about what is going on in the body.
This is why it doesn’t make sense to treat symptoms. This is where functional lab work comes in handy. Looking at specific markers within the body narrows down the possibilities and an experienced practitioner can help you troubleshoot the rest!
Practitioners I Recommend
Considering the factors discussed above, I have personally recruited three top-notch health coaches that are available for long-distance functional nutrition consulting.
Melissa Nohr, CHC
Melissa Nohr is a Board-Certified Health Coach, attorney, wife, and mother of four. She is a prolific researcher and writer on a variety of health and wellness topics. Her writing has been featured on The Truth about Cancer, Cancer Tutor, and DrJockers.com.
Melissa became a health coach after going through her own health crisis. She turned to functional medicine for answers and healing and expanded her education by attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She was able to overcome her adrenal issues, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and SIBO. Now, she is on a mission to help her clients through their health challenges so that they can experience optimal health.
As a health coach, Melissa works with clients with a range of health issues, including leaky gut, adrenal and thyroid issues, digestive issues, chronic disease, and much more. Melissa also works with children, both young and old, who are dealing with their own challenges. She loves to involve the entire family in healthy nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Melissa focuses on reducing inflammation, balancing blood sugar, maximizing nutrition, and reducing stress. She educates, supports and guides her clients in developing and maintaining nutrition and lifestyle changes to meet their health goals and overcome any obstacles.
Melissa has a passion for educating people on nutrition and health. She gives interactive workshops and leads grocery-shopping tours.
Melissa is Board Certified as a Holistic Health Practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, International Association of Health Coaches, and the Association of Health Coaches for Christ. She is also trained as a BioIndividualized Nutrition Practitioner and has studied functional medicine in detail for over 5 years.
Read more about Melissa and her coaching plans here.
Dr Ivonne Boujaoude, ND, MS, MA, CFMP, CFSP, CGP
Hampton Young, CFHC, CPT, BS
Hampton Young is a Certified Functional Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and holds a Bachelors of Science in Health Promotion. He has
been working within the health and wellness industry for over fifteen years serving in a variety of roles ranging from diet and lifestyle education,
physical therapy rehabilitation, functional fitness training, and product education for some of the top nutritional supplement companies in the
As a Functional Health Coach Hampton views his relationship with clients as a partnership. He seeks to educate, support and empower clients with targeted strategies to help them best achieve their health goals. Hampton utilizes a holistic approach focusing on mental attitude, diet, lifestyle, supplementation and detoxification methods, according to each client’s unique story and bio-individual needs.
Read more about Hampton and his coaching plans here.
wow, it’s interesting that a nutrition coach can actually right-fit your body with the essential nutrients that it needs. I love it when you sai that life coach can help you customize your anti-inflammatory nutrition a lifestyle to help you speed up the healing process. My body is very prone to inflammation. I think getting a nutrition coach can help me heal from this condition.
I have a similar question on which education path to take to become a functional nutritionist/ practitioner and work for a doctors office to support their patients. My education is a B.S. in Exercise Science Health and Fitness, A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant, I read many books on health, nutrition and have good understanding on how the body works. I have a basic understanding of most functional medicine tests that are currently used. Since I have an intense holistic passion to get back into the health space, I want to make the correct choice in my education. Any suggestions would be grately appreciated.
Hey Lisa, yes my favorite program that I recommend is the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner program to become a FDN-P. You can find out info on that here: https://bit.ly/3ffQwfy
I was wondering if you know of a Functional health coach who has worked with POTS /CFS patients. Thanks!
Yes our health coach Melissa has a lot of experience with POTS/CFS patients https://drjockers.lpages.co/nutrition-coaching-melissa/
Hi Dr. Jockeys
I would like to know is there a way to heal someone with rheumatoid arthritis. I hate this disease. Iam on Humira . Can’t take myself off of it cause I will have a flair up. Can you help me .
Sorry to hear this Brenda, here is a helpful article: https://drjockers.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/
Thank you for all your helpful information.
My son had his gall bladder removed when he was 14 yrs old, he was back in hospital 24hrs later for 1 week with severe pain. His severe pain can come on suddenly and be 9 out of 10 pain and I have had to call the ambulance quite a few times. He is now 23 yrs old and still has severe nerve pain. The Dr’s call it post surgical pain. It’s under his right 2nd rib area. He has seen 2 neurologists. Pain clinics and is now on medical cannabis which takes away the pain most of the time but he gets very exhausted from the pain.
Do you have any suggestions?
So sorry to hear this! Here are some helpful strategies: https://drjockers.com/neuropathy/
Hi Dr. Jockers,
I am not going through any serious health concerns, however I want to get rid of my constant soreness of muscles which is increasing from my early 20s, and my fatigue and tiredness which doesen’t seem to come up on any blood test markers which a General Physician here in India conduct. I want to go from survive to thrive and accelerate my athletic performance which shouldn’t be dipping at my age(I’m 30.) How should I go about it? I am also interested in learning more about this field to make a career as a Well-Being Coach i.e. Body, Mind and Soul to additionally benefit my clients.
Thanks and Regards,
Yes I would recommend you work with a functional health coach! Blessings!
Dear Dr. Jockers,
Thank you for sharing so much useful information!
I desperately want to get off prescription sleeping pills.
I have tried SO many natural alternatives, to no avail.
I am a 64 yr old surfer who gets plenty of sunshine, exercise, yoga,
meditation and excellent nutrition- bedtime comes and my body feels relaxed but I can’t drop into sleep naturally!! A 20+ yr problem.
Any suggestions from you would be highly valued.
Hey Cindy, here is a helpful article: https://drjockers.com/deep-sleep/
I was recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis without the doctor seeing ANY bloodwork and prescribed methotrexate. I am somewhat skeptical of this diagnosis because I have no psoriasis, just joint inflammation in my fingers, feet and 1 elbow. I am very reluctant to take this cancer drug that has many side effects. I suddenly developed all this inflammation after contracting a mild case of covid so I keep thinking I may have virus induced arthritis. But either way, no matter why I have this arthritis, I would like to try a holistic approach. I can research all day long but until someone actually looks at my bloodwork and guides me, I will be just playing guessing games. I had 1 set of bloodwork done but the rheumatologist has not seen it yet and she said it may not be what she wanted and will require more testing. Do you believe a health coach can keep me off of prescription medications that also prevents joint degeneration? Can you provide a general cost range for these services? Thank you.
Sorry to hear about all of this Renee, yes I would highly recommend working with a functional health coach to help discover the root cause factors and customize a plan to help you improve your health. https://drjockers.lpages.co/long-distance-coaching-dr-jockers/
I have another question. Should I wait for bloodwork before purchasing one of the bioactive carbon products so that I am taking the correct version?
I don’t think you need to wait for blood work on that, you can get started with the Bioactive Carbon Biotox to start the detoxification process.
Impression from MRI
1. L5-S1 pars defects with anterolisthesis of 6-7 mm. No canal stenosis is present.
There is severe left foraminal stenosis with left foramen disc herniation extrusion
type causing mass-effect on the exiting left L5 nerve root. Right foramen
narrowing is present mild to moderate in serverity.
2. L4-5 disc bulge with central disc annular tear with disc herniation protrusion
type. No canal stenosis is present. The neural foramen are patent.
3. Loss of lumbar lordosis.
Neurologist suggested ibuprofen 800mg 3x/daily for a week and PT for 5 weeks and then reevaluate.
Any natural ibuprofen suggestions for pain and inflammation and would a health coach be able to help with this.
Thanks for any suggestions.
Sorry to hear about this Angie, while a functional health coach can not prescribe medications or treat a condition like this, they can give you many natural strategies to reduce pain and improve quality of life.
Any referrals for someone with PCOS that has experience and success managing? We have used two functional medicine doctors and as of yet no luck (2 years)?
Sorry to hear this Cindy! Here is a helpful article on PCOS: https://drjockers.com/pcos-support-strategies/
Any suggestions for a coach that can help with mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings along with a leaky gut?
Hi Nancy. I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in 1993. My doctor at that time realized I had all my mercury fillings removed in 1992. I was a bit ahead of the times. I then realized my fillings needed to be removed due to their toxicity. In those days they did not have any special safety protocol for mercury removal and I became flooded with mercury. Fortunately, within a short period of time, I was diagnosed with MG. I had all the symptoms. I found a Dr who was getting into integrative medicine at that time. He sent me to an innovative Doctor practicing Chelation therapy. I took 17 sessions of it. During that time I serendipitously stumbled upon another Doctor by accident ( very famous today) Dr. Perlmutter and he added a few supplements to it and encouraged me to continue on the Chelation and I was cured in 9 months. So definitely get the chelation done. It is mainstream today. In My days it was considered Quackery. Good luck and blessings to you.
Thanks for sharing Cristina!
Hello, I hope you can answer this one: Do you have (or know of any) board certified functional health coach that knows sign language? I have a hearing loss and use American Sign Language and am looking for one :). Thank you!
No, at this point we don’t know anyone but we will stay on the lookout.
Breast cancer survivor, insomnia, hair loss etc. Do you have a great nutritional health coach to recommend in suburbs of Chicago? Blessings to you
Hello Josie – not sure about Chicago but our health coaches are fantastic and work with people all over the world through phone/email and zoom calls.
Hello Dr. Jockers.
I have been following you for quite awhile. Your sound advice has helped with many health issues. Thank you.
I am looking for a Functional Doctor who utilizes telehealth. I live in Billings, MT and have found most ND’s are affiliated with the BIG Medical Clinic here. I have interviewed many and am currently seeing one of these Natropathic Doctors. Although very helpful they are pushing hard for me to get the biological warfare jab. Do you perhaps have a reccomendation list of trusted professionals?
Thank you, any help will be greatly appreciated.
Hello Treva, while we do not have a list of trusted professionals, we do have functional health coaches that work with people all over the world. https://drjockers.lpages.co/long-distance-coaching-dr-jockers/
Any good functional doctors in SLC, Utah? I’ve had many abdominal surgeries, including
hysterectomy, nissan fundoplication, gall bladder, small intestine blockage, and lg. bowel resection from diverticulosis. I’ve been diagnosed with CLL leukemia. I have a pacemaker. I suffer with awful digestive issues–SIBO/IBS, etc. I’m afraid to eat or go anywhere because of bowel problems. I’m battling depression. I could really use some help.
Is any of this covered by insurance? I was hoping to find something that’s even partially covered.
Sorry if this question is redundant. I’m in Ohio, not that it matters like you said.
What to do for sticky , enlarged red blood cells that show on tests ? I’m plant based in my eating plan .I know they lead to serious conditions . Is there anyway to prevent and reduce their size and stickiness ? I’ve been told about them by two doctors .
Thank you for this informative article regarding finding a functional medicine nutrition coach. I have been looking for a holistic solution to my health care issues currently so this was very helpful. I am currently in end stage renal failure, stage five kidney failure with polycystic kidneys and I’m on dialysis and have been for two years. I’ve started the test to get on the transplant list at UNC. The nephrologist that I deal with do not want to have anything to do with any type of progressive/holistic care. Medicare probably requires strict adherence to assure payment but this approach is unfortunately possibly robbing many dialysis patients of better healthcare…especially since the kidneys play such a vital and integral role throughout the body. I’m having to be my own advocate because I know functional medicine could help improve my quality of life. If you have any recommendations with someone on your team who has experience in the field of renal failure/dialysis or if you could recommend a functional medicine practitioner in the Wilmington North Carolina area that would be awesome! Again, I appreciate your article and I look forward to hearing from you!