Food is the single biggest modifiable risk factor in modern chronic diseases and at the same time the single greatest health enhancer and disease modifier. You are what you eat! It’s that simple.
The food plans below are not diet plans but carefully crafted food guides. Some have taken years to develop and each guide had a team of health care and medical specialist that worked on it ranging from PhD nutritionists to MDs, integrative cardiologists and lipidologists. These are medical food plans.
All of these plans were crafted by the Institute for Functional Medicine and are being used here with their permission.
Each one is specific for a particular disease entity or underlying pathological process. Please be sure to consult with your personal health care specialists prior to beginning any food plan.
Each food guide contains a master plan that explains the uses of the particular plan, a 7-day recipe planner and a food list that outlines the entire plan in one page that you can use to help you shop at the grocery store.
Core Food Plan
The Core Food Plan (CFP) is designed for those who are interested in:
Core principles of healthy eating
Awareness of one’s relationship with food
The CFP is a first step on your journey towards healthier eating and is designed to encourage eating in a way that will nourish and energize you. It is based on current research on what and how people should eat to be healthy and live longer. It takes elements from the Mediterranean diet and the hunter-gatherer approach (sometimes referred to as “Paleo” diet), focusing on low- glycemic carbohydrates. The food plan can be easily changed to suit personal preferences and health needs. It is available in vegetarian and vegan versions and can accommodate foods from virtually any culture.
Elimination Food Plan
Do you suffer from any of the following conditions:
Chronic Sinus Drainage
Health problems such as these may be related to a specific food or foods that are eaten frequently. Many people with food sensitivities don’t even realize how awful they feel until the trigger foods are removed from the diet.
Food reactions are a frequently overlooked cause of chronic health issues. Some reactions occur immediately after eating the food (allergy), but in other cases, symptoms may be delayed by several hours or even days (referred to as food sensitivity or food intolerance). Removing specific foods from your diet will allow the body to recover and begin to function efficiently again.
These adverse food reactions are common because the same foods are eaten day after day, resulting in greater sensitization to these foods. If the right foods are not eaten, digestion and absorption may be impaired. Additionally, those with weakened immune systems may be more prone to food sensitivities.
The EFP helps to uncover food(s) that may be the culprits. It is a very useful tool for diagnosing adverse food reactions, whether a true allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity.
Often, symptoms that have failed to respond to conventional medical therapy will resolve by following an Elimination Diet. After the initial period of eliminating foods, many chronic symptoms should improve or disappear. When the burden on the immune system is decreased, the body has an opportunity to heal. Along the way, it is important to learn how to eat an enjoyable and nutrient-dense diet while starting on the road to optimum health!
Detox Food Plan
The word detox has two common meanings: (1) to withdraw from the use of drugs or alcohol to which one has developed an addiction, and (2) to describe the body’s physiologic process of rendering chemicals, compounds, hormones, and toxicants less harmful. The second definition is the one we use in Functional Medicine. This process is often referred to as “metabolic detoxification.” The organs of detoxification work efficiently as a whole to reduce the body burden or toxic load of chemicals; they include the liver, kidneys, large intestine, lymphatic system, and sweat glands.
1 out of 3 American has some form of a chronic disease and most of the rest experience symptoms of one developing.
In other words, there are well-defined metabolic pathways in the body that are responsible for converting toxins into chemical compounds, making it easy for the body to eliminate them (primarily through the urine or stools). Studies on how drugs are metabolized and cleared from the body have established a good understanding of these detoxification processes.
Of course, metabolic detoxification is an ongoing process. Every day, the organs are working to eliminate environmental contaminants that come in from toxic bacteria, pollutants, plasticizers, and heavy metals, to name a few. One of the most common exposures is toxic chemicals from agricultural production (pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. These exposures commonly occur through ingestion or inhalation of water, foods, and air and from time spent in the home or work environment. Sources of toxicants that can increase the body burden include materials used in new construction, carpet chemicals that can off-gas into the air, paint, household cleaners, galvanic forces in the mouth that result from mixed metals in dental restorations, synthetic materials used in dental products, and even personal hygiene products applied to face, skin, and hair. Air pollutants are found in industrial exposures, primary or second-hand smoke exposure, and auto exhaust. In other words, everyone is continually living amidst chemicals and toxicants in an increasingly toxic society, resulting in an ever-increasing body burden or toxic load of chemicals.
A person’s toxic body burden is a result of three main factors. First, there is the toxicant exposure we each may have received from both internal and external sources, as previously discussed. Second, each person’s genetic predisposition to effectively produce detoxification enzymes for processing these compounds or substrates is unique and depends on familial influence. Last, the integration of proper nutrition and ongoing dietary ingestion of helpful detoxification nutrients or phytonutrients can impact the body’s capacity to appropriately reduce the presence of toxicants and lower the body burden.
Toxic symptoms may occur when we get to our personal limit of accumulated toxins and are not able to clear them fast or efficiently enough. Medical researchers are recognizing more symptoms related to the buildup of toxins, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, fatigue, infertility, allergies, behavior and mood disorders, and neurological conditions such as tremors, headaches, and cognitive difficulties, along with several other diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The process of detoxification involves many steps. There may be reasons why the body isn’t particularly efficient about clearing toxins. These reasons can be situational, such as having an increased exposure to toxins, being constipated and thus not able to excrete toxins in the stool, being deficient in specific nutrients, eating a nutrient-poor diet, being under stress, having a chronic disease, experiencing excessive inflammation, and not getting enough physical activity or restorative sleep. There may also be genetic reasons, such as having particularly slow enzymes that aren’t efficient in converting toxins into compounds that can be excreted.
The goal of a clinically-directed metabolic detoxification protocol is to provide nutritional support for facilitating the pathways involved in the processing and excretion of toxins. A detox program results in improved symptoms and an increased sense of wellbeing for most individuals. Specifically, many who participate in a personalized detoxification program describe an improvement in pain and fatigue levels, enhanced cognitive function and moods, more effective and satisfying sleep cycles, and weight loss. The Detox Food Plan Comprehensive Guide provides specific food and nutrition suggestions to optimize the metabolic detoxification experience and lower the body burden. The guide offers directions in how to sequence a healthy detox and wellness plan by providing tips on how to get started, what to eat, what to watch for, and how to provide the body with the right nutrients for longstanding, improved elimination and detoxification.
Renew Food Plan
The Renew Food Plan prescribed by a Functional Medicine practitioner is a therapeutic, short-term approach followed for a specific amount of time, often used as a first step in:
Ridding the body of the most common foods that cause inflammation
Identifying food allergies, sensitivities, intolerances, and triggers
Eliminating foods with potentially addictive and harmful components
Providing nutritional support for the body’s detoxification systems
The following questions may help to determine if the Renew Food Plan is right for an individual:
Do you routinely consume and crave fast food, packaged foods, and processed foods with sugar or flour?
Do you consume fish or shellfish regularly? If so, what kind and where does it come from?
Do you regularly eat fruits and vegetables that are nonorganic?
Do you eat fewer than five servings of fresh fruits or vegetables per day?
Do you consume lots of animal products every day (e.g., meat, milk, cheese, and eggs)?
If a person answers “yes” to one or more of the questions above, he or she may have an addiction to sugar or processed foods, may be exposed to a high level of potential food triggers or allergens, or may have a high total body burden of toxins. The Renew Food Plan focuses on removing processed foods with sugar, grains, and dairy—the main sources of most food allergies and intolerances (also referred to as food sensitivities)—as well as artificial sweeteners and processed chemicals. As a result of eliminating these foods and chemicals from the diet, the body will be better able to repair tissues and eliminate toxins.
A Functional Medicine practitioner may also suggest a gut restoration or healing program for patients who present with intestinal permeability (leaky gut). In this stage of healing, an assessment of digestive function may identify sources of gut bacteria or pathogens that create imbalances within the gut microbiome.
One of the most important aspects of the Renew Food Plan is the emphasis on consistent intake of foods that help optimize the function of the primary organs of elimination and reduce stimulation of the immune system. The gut needs to work efficiently to provide one to two well-formed bowel movements daily. Without proper movement of the bowels, fewer toxins are excreted from the body. Some of these excreted toxins are processed by the liver and are released through the bile. Adequate daily dietary fiber intake (at least 35 grams daily) from colorful, phytonutrient-rich, non-starchy vegetables also aids in the elimination of endotoxins in the stool. Some converted toxins are also eliminated through urine, which is why proper hydration is essential for optimal detoxification.
The Renew Food Plan is designed to support not just the gut, but also the liver, the hub of detoxification processes. When neglected through lack of nutrients or overburdened by an increased toxic load, the liver’s capacity to detoxify becomes compromised. By implementing this food plan, an individual will decrease toxin intake and experience better digestive function, improved immune function, and enhanced liver detoxification.
Some individuals may need to follow this plan (or a variation of it) long term. A Functional Medicine practitioner can personalize the plan, advising individuals on how to add certain foods back into the diet while maintaining the exclusion of others.
Energy Food Plan
The Mito Food Plan (also referred to as the Energy Food Plan) may be described as an anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic, gluten-free, low-grain, high-quality fats approach to eating. The plan focuses on supporting healthy mitochondria through the use of therapeutic foods that improve energy production. Mitochondria are structures in the cell that make energy by using oxygen and nutrients from food. The brain, heart, nerves, muscles, and organs all have higher concentrations of mitochondria. These parts of the body are also more susceptible to a premature decline in function by a host of common insults. Harmful food choices can contribute to this decline, leading to poor health and chronic illness. The Mito Food Plan will support your body in the production of energy, restore a sense of vitality, and help you use food to support a graceful and healthy aging process. The Mito food list can assist in preventing the development of chronic neurological disease by helping people to choose specific foods that enhance mitochondrial function.
Metabolic Food Plan
The Metabolic Food Plan (aka Cardiometabolic Food Plan) is designed for the following individuals:
Those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Those with risk factors for dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes (T2D), or elevated cholesterol/triglycerides.
Those with CVD (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and elevated blood fats)
Those with metabolic syndrome (e.g., high blood sugar, increased belly fat, low testosterone, PCOS)
Those with Type II Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes.
Fortunately, diet and lifestyle interventions are effective in preventing and treating all of these conditions. This Metabolic Food Plan Comprehensive Guide explains what makes this food plan unique for the individual. It also provides answers to common questions people may have as they start to follow the plan.
Some people may question why the same food plan is suggested to treat both cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. While they may seem to be different types of conditions, cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions share similar causes, including inflammation, insulin resistance, and stress. This food plan is also called “cardiometabolic” because it addresses both disease states. It allows people to use food medicinally to treat the common underlying causes.