Back and Forward: Linda Clark on the Health Benefits of Nutrition

Back Q&A Apr 10, 2017

Linda Clark, with Sacramento’s Universal Wellness Associates, provides her insight into how health incomes can be improved through nutrition. For more from Clark, check out “You Think What You Eat” in our April issue. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.

What’s the biggest change in your industry in the past year?

One of the biggest trends was the demand for personalized medicine as illustrated by the explosive rise in functional medicine, which has now become a global movement toward determining the underlying causes of health issues, and developing customized diet and lifestyle programs to improve health outcomes.

There has also been a proliferation of health summits online populated by health practitioners who practice the tenets of functional medicine. The audience has grown from just a few thousand a few years ago to millions of viewers today. Now, the public has greater access to education on the functional and metabolic aspects of diabetes, heart disease, autoimmunity, thyroid issues, brain and children’s health and what types of diets, nutritional support and lifestyle strategies can support these different health concerns.

For example, with conventional medicine, the treatment of autoimmune conditions usually involves lowering inflammation and possible suppression of the immune system. With functional medicine, various tests are run to determine some of the underlying metabolic, hormonal, food and biochemical imbalances that contribute to the immune dysregulation common to autoimmune conditions. From this data, a personalized diet and lifestyle program can be developed to not only support healthy immune function, but also to improve overall health and vitality.

What do you foresee as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?

We are already seeing changes occurring in nutrition toward an even more personalized approach to health through ongoing research in epigenetics, which is the impact of diet, nutrients, environment and lifestyle on the expression of our genes. The future for this research is to determine an individual’s potential for health and health risk as it pertains to what types of foods and nutrients are needed to improve each person’s health and epigenetic expression.

We will see even more emphasis on dietary detoxification programs from the recognition of the high level of toxicants we are exposed to on a daily basis — air pollution, indoor pollution, packaged foods, pesticide-laden foods, chemicals in cosmetics and skin care, plastics, etc., which overwhelm our body’s natural detoxification capacity and impact epigenetic expression.

Current research demonstrates that these toxicants can actually change cellular structure, act as hormone disruptors, create changes in the brain and are one of the underlying factors exacerbating chronic diseases. I think we will see even more emphasis on improving the capacity to detoxify and living a detox lifestyle as a way of improving and maintaining health.  

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