What diet does functional medicine recommend?


The functional medicine diet is jokingly called the pegan diet by Mark Hyman, one of the leading figures in the functinoal medicine space. This is because functional medicine is a combination of the paleo and a vegan diet. Functional medicine focusses mostly on plant-based and whole foods.

So foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, (non-starchy) vegetables, fruits and organic meat and fish. Basically the foods we have been eating for all of history.

Foods you should limit as much as possible are dairy, refined sugars, coffee, alcohol and gluten. (ultra) Processed foods with more than 5 ingredients that have lots of unknown substances that you can’t pronounce are also a no go.

Read on why functional medicine

Why legumes are recommended by functional medicine

Legumes is a general term used for beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts. They are recommended by functional medicine because they are rich in proteïne and fiber. They also contain magnesium and iron. If you want to know why iron and magnesium is important, check out our previous article. These plant based sources of proteine are not only one of the best foods you can eat but also quite cheap.

Why nuts are recommended by functional medicine

Nuts like legumes are also great sources of proteïne, but also of the right unsaturated fats like omega-3 oil. They also contain fiber, vitamin-E and plant-sterols which are good for your cholesterol levels. 80% of a nut is fat so too much of nuts might not be such a good idea. A healthy serving of nuts is a handful or 1 or 2 spoons of nut spreads. Eat them raw or cooked but not boiled in oil.

Why fruits are recommended by functional medicine

Fruits are nature’s candy, they contain sugars which is why you shouldn’t eat to much fruit. But fruits also contain all kinds of healthy vitamins and minerals. The advice is to eat the rainbow since different kind of colored fruit contains different kinds of vitamins and minerals like vitamin c, potassium, folate and fruit is also high in fiber.

It ofcourse differs per fruit, you can check out this extensive list for more information: https://www.lenntech.com/fruit-vegetable-mineral-content.htm

Why seeds are recommended by functional medicine

Seeds are loaded with calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus (important for restoring cells). Flax seeds even contain omega-3 fats. The six best seeds to eat are:

  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Find out more about these seeds in this article: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-6-best-seeds-to-eat/

Why organic meats and fish are recommended by functional medicine

Organic meats and fish contain vitamin B12, omega 3 fat and even some antioxidants. Meat is ofcourse also a very good source of proteïne and fiber. Organic meat as well as fish shouldn’t be eaten much. They are more of a treat than something to be eaten daily. Once or twice a week is the overall advice.

Want to read more on this topic. We’ve found a very extensive article that covers this subject very thoroughly: https://holisticfoodie.com/is-organic-meat-better/

Why non-starchy vegetables are recommended by functional medicine

Non-starchy vegetables have a low amount of carbohydrates and are often much more “clean” vegetables than starchy vegetables. To be clear, here is a list of non-starchy and starchy vegetables:

StarchyNon-Starchy
White potatoBlack-olives
Sweet potatoPurple Cabbage
Green peasEggplant
TurnipsAsparagus
Butternut SquashBrussel Sprouts
CarrotsCelery
BeetsRed Peppers
Acorn SquashTomatos
CornPaprika

Fun fact, the color of fruit and vegetables says a lot about nutritional value. To find out more, check this article: http://www.winmedical.org/our-services/clinics/family-medicine/healthy-eating/the-importance-of-a-colorful-diet/

Finally, here is a cool video by Mark Hyman about superfoods of functional medicine:

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