In the Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition Model, integration is of paramount importance to the success of helping the client achieve wellness. Functional Medicine takes into account the pillars of health: Physical health, Mental health, Environment, Spiritual health, Personal relationships, Stress level and response, Financial wellness, and more. It addresses the person as a whole and recognizes that imbalances in physiology will occur when imbalances and deficiencies in these pillars are present. As a Functional Nutritionist, I succeed and revel in the integration of modalities represented in these pillars. For someone to achieve optimal wellness they must be supported in many areas of what it means to be a well-functioning human.
Bringing Balance to the Gut and to Life
When I began my journey over 15 years ago, it became very apparent to me that the conventional medical model of “a pill for every ill,” symptom-based treatments, were an abject failure and causing me harm. I felt frustrated, unsupported, unheard, and most of all, sick. Having suffered from IBS-D, migraines, Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (hives), painful menstrual cycles, and an increasing instability in emotions and mood, I went on a path to find the source of my issues. I came to the conclusion through diving into material by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD and other nutrition-minded and integrative practitioners that all of my chronic symptoms were related and stemming from imbalances in my gut.
My hypothesis was proven correct when I started to change my diet to whole-foods, more nutrient dense, less processed, gluten and dairy free. Not only did my digestive symptoms resolve, but my mood improved, my hives dissipated, my migraines- and any headaches at all- disappeared over some time of consistently following the changes. I also dropped the 15lbs I had gained in my first 2 years of undergrad and looked less swollen and inflamed! Most of all I felt better than I had in years- possibly my whole life- as I had been suffering from hives and GI problems since early childhood.
This led me on my path of learning about the power of certain foods to heal and the ability of certain foods to harm. While I felt so much better, I realized that my approach would still need support from other modalities to gain optimal health. I incorporated techniques to support the stress response and to enrich my spiritual health, such as meditation. Also, I became physically active again, heading to the gym for boot camp classes, Zumba classes, and more. I changed my entire environment in the ways I could control: water filters, air purifiers, body and beauty products that contained chemical-free ingredients that I could eat, natural fabrics, and more. This helped to reduce my exposure to toxins.
Like-Minded Practitioners that Understand the Pillars of Health
I learned that the stages of change are not easy to navigate yourself. I was lucky to find others who were like-minded on my journey and who were on a similar journey. Once I went back to school for health and nutrition and became certified, I wanted to find other practitioners that were in the same boat: Practitioners that understood the pillars of wellness and what it means to be well. After 2 years of practicing on my own, I was blessed that a mutual client brought Gabby and I together. Beyond blessed!
Bodywork does so much to connect a person’s mind back with their bodies, to bring awareness to what the body is saying to them, and to offer stress-reduction and healing emotionally and physically. What a great addition for those also embracing dietary changes! We knew that we both knew a lot, but not enough to fully support the entire being, so we sought to find more like-minded practitioners to fit under one roof. Next came Elizabeth, Jesse, Ashley, Stefano, Ariana, and the rest is history!! After much planning, debating, formulating, learning, and growing, we formed Ampersand Integrative Wellness.
Ampersand’s Integrative Model
We have constructed an integrative model that addresses the client’s needs at their core. The facets of the wellness wheel are all encompassed under one roof. We meet weekly to discuss integrative clients in a group think-tank environment that allows us all an opportunity to verbalize how we would approach a situation and to give the client the best comprehensive care. Oh, the sigh of relief I have to honor and trust my fellow practitioners with clients and know they are in the best hands is amazing!
If you are starting out on your own wellness journey or are far along, but feel you are missing some pieces, I implore you to check out what Ampersand has to offer. Setting up an appointment with our Integrative Coordinator is an easy first step to getting you the support you may be missing.