Navigating Foundational Nutrition for Optimal Health

In my practice as a Board Certified PA specializing in functional medicine, I advocate for a holistic approach to patient care, placing nutrition at the core of wellness. In today’s landscape of abundant dietary information, finding the right path amidst options like paleo, vegan, carnivore, or keto can be daunting.

Understanding that each individual’s health goals and medical conditions are unique, it’s crucial to engage in a dialogue with your health care provider to tailor your diet accordingly. Nevertheless, the following foundational tips can serve as a valuable starting point for most individuals:

 

Prioritize whole foods

Embrace foods in their natural state, typically found along the perimeter of grocery stores—think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and minimally processed meats. Minimize intake of boxed products, processed foods, and pre-made meals.

 

Opt for quality animal products

Choose organic, wild-caught, and grass-fed animal products whenever possible. Not only does this enhance nutrient density, but it also aligns with environmental and ethical considerations.

 

Embrace healthy fats

Incorporate sources of healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and wild-caught fish into your diet. These fats are essential for bodily functions, enhance flavor, and promote satiety.

 

Balance protein and fiber

Include a combination of protein and fiber with each meal and snack to support stable blood sugar levels. Examples include hummus with veggies or apple slices with nut butter, showcasing the synergistic effect of protein and fiber.

 

Nurture your microbiome

Support a healthy gut microbiome with probiotic-rich foods like grass-fed yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables. Additionally, incorporate prebiotic foods such as garlic, onion, legumes, and artichokes to feed beneficial gut bacteria.

 

Practice mindful eating

Avoid nighttime eating by refraining from food intake 2-3 hours before bedtime and aiming for a 12-hour overnight fast to promote quality sleep and digestion. Extending the fasting window to 14-16 hours a few days per week (intermittent fasting) may further support metabolic health and gut function.

 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all diet, these overarching principles have been instrumental in guiding my patients towards improved health. Working with a Functional Medicine practitioner involves a comprehensive assessment, including detailed history, functional lab testing, and personalized dietary and supplement recommendations.

 

Ultimately, food serves as a powerful tool for enhancing well-being. Consult your health care provider to tailor a diet that aligns with your unique needs and goals, empowering you to live your healthiest life possible.

Leah Streich, PA-C, MCHS

Leah Streich, PA-C, MCHS

Leah Streich is a Board Certified PA at Clinic 5C Functional Medicine in Spokane, WA. Streich worked as a Registered Dietitian prior to PA school and graduated from University of Washington’s MEDEX program in 2012. She has practiced in family practice, urgent care and currently specializes in functional and regenerative medicine.