Andrea Nakayama's Field Guide to Functional Nutrition | Root Cause

Root Cause


The phrase ‘root cause resolution’ gets thrown around a lot these days.

And it’s a brilliant expression. It’s one that allows us to think about what might be happening “upstream” that’s causing “downstream” signs, symptoms and even diagnoses.

I don’t mean to mix metaphors (trees and streams), but if we stop to think about those two terms that are often used in Functional Medicine: “roots” and “upstream”, we can start to wrap our minds around the reality that we face in healthcare today. That reality is that all the complaints that we hear from our clients and patients were established some time ago—from circumstances, experiences and conditions that occurred or were perpetuated long before they came seeking our services and support.

Consider for a moment some of the factors that can impact disease expression:

  • living environment
  • community support
  • genetics
  • birth story and order
  • education
  • occupation
  • diet
  • lifestyle factors
  • social support
  • and more

When you put all the elements that are true for one individual into the melting pot of the body, and add the influence and risk of life’s stressors (external and internal)…KABAM!…the result is aches, pains, discomfort and disease.

Understanding this concept allows us to see that many practitioners are practicing root cause resolution all wrong.

That’s right, addressing the roots takes systems and targeted thinking that allows us to address the terrain before, during and after dismantling the dysfunction. Even if you’re a physician who can do specialty testing, diagnostics, and treatments to both label and aim at the dysfunction itself, the terrain in which that physiological wound developed still needs to be altered.

Root cause resolution means we ask WHY not WHAT.

Root cause resolution means we ask WHY not WHAT. #functionalnutrition Click To Tweet

Yet in order to even find the roots (and there are likely many), we need to clear the mud from the waters so that we can see with more certainty.

And this is where I’d like to call the practitioners properly trained in functional nutrition to the fore…

Practicing root cause resolution is all about terrain. It’s about “clearing the muddy waters”, adjusting the landscape, nurturing the soil.

That’s what we as practitioners who understand how to practice functionally (what I’m calling the allied functional medicine practitioners) can do that nobody else can.

Instead of thinking that we need to get right at those roots, stop and imagine that healthy roots cannot thrive, survive (or heal) in harmful soil. The more we tend to the soil, the more those roots might just regenerate and even be cured all on their own.

Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Holistic Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.