Words: Rob Thorp, nutritionist and founder of Vite Naturals
In the simplest terms, functional nutrition is a philosophy that promotes the use of natural food as a means to benefit bodily functions, helping to restore balance, alleviate nutrient deficiencies, heal the gut, and much, much more.
Taking this ideology one step further, functional nutrition is about understanding the needs of your body and how nutritional choices can impact your overall health and performance.
Above all, functional nutrition does not always need to be seen as a ‘fix’ or a ‘cure’. Largely, it can serve as a boost, helping you to naturally level up and genuinely enhance your health and wellbeing.
How can functional nutrition help you?
Eating functionally, and making food and nutrition choices that offer tangible benefits, can help to improve many of the day-to-day issues that prevent you from being the best that you can be.
If you are making the right functional food choices, you should be able to see and feel changes quickly – across everything from sleep and immunity, to gut health, mental performance, physical performance, and energy levels.
How to practise functional nutrition
To many, functional nutrition might seem complicated, but when you strip the ideology back to basics and gain a deeper understanding of what your body needs, and how that can be achieved through nutrition alone, you are on the right track.
To get started, it is important to do your research and understand the properties of nutrition which can be viewed as functional. That means a diet high in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, probiotics, and complex carbohydrates – all of which are mostly found in organic and plant-based foods.
To effectively practise functional nutrition, it’s also important to understand what is in your food. Care should be taken to source your food from places you can trust to ensure that no nasties are sneaking into your diet and undoing all your good work.
Functional nutrition foods
Most foods are functional, but the key to true functional nutrition is seeking ingredients and foods that offer real benefits beyond satisfying cravings or relieving hunger.
Functional nutrition is massively growing in popularity, and the category is becoming broader, taking inspiration from traditional Eastern medicine, looking at herbs and vitamins from adaptogens, nootropics, and fermented foods like kombucha and kimchi. All of these foods provide the body with natural goodness, which is easily and readily absorbed for optimum benefits.
In the future, it will likely be the case that everything you eat throughout the day will serve a tangible function, rather than eating purely to satisfy hunger.
Vite Naturals has recently launched Europe’s first probiotic and nootropics snack bars. Shop the range at vitenaturals.com