It's Deeper Than Dieting

The 4 Building Blocks of Functional Nutrition

Functional Nutrition is the basic philosophy that the human body is designed with the ability to regulate, repair and defend itself when given natural whole food nutrition.  

The 4 Building Blocks of Functional Nutrition health model helps you understand the basic nutrient needs of your physical body. The building blocks are four specific nutrient groups that each offer essential, specific benefits for your body's cells and systems.  

Each building block ties into and supports the others, working together to support the cellular foundation of your life. This strong cellular foundation provides the benefits we experience as energy, vitality and radiant health.


A superfood is a whole food which acts as a powerhouse of concentrated nutrients, offering a lot of micronutrients for comparatively few calories.

As most Western diets lack micronutrients, adding superfoods to your diet is extremely beneficial. A great superfood will contain micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Try these easy upgrades:

• Sprouted and organic multigrain breads and cereals. These are preferable to processed white or wheat.

• Organic nut butter. Try almond butter on your toast instead of any type of margarine spread.

• Organic rice, nut or grain milk.  Pasteurized dairy is not digestible and soy is hard to digest.

• Locally grown produce. You may even find local organically raised meats.  Local farmers and your body will thank you!


Digestive nutrients help your body to correctly break down foods into usable elements. This means that food is more effectively absorbed into your blood, where it becomes the fuel for all the cells in our body. Friendly bacteria and food enzymes help to efficiently and completely turn food into energy for life.

Most traditional cultures around the world have fermented or cultured foods that provide powerful health benefits, including immune function support and optimized digestion.  However, in industrialized nations, most fermented foods are heated, sterilized and processed or pasteurized and offer zero digestive benefits. Some simple changes to ensure better digestive nutrients include:

• Lots of fresh raw vegetables and fruits.  If fresh enough, they are filled with natural food enzymes.

• Add organic, non-GMO miso to your meals.  This is a healthful fermented soy paste you can use to flavor salad dressings and other dishes. Be sure not to over-heat or you will destroy the beneficial bacteria and enzymes.

• Eat live culture fermented foods. Kombucha, live-culture yogurt and raw sauerkraut are examples you might find locally made.

• Get a good water filter for drinking and cooking.  This helps preserve the good bacteria in your gut.


Antioxidants are molecules that safely neutralize free radicals and help protect your cells from premature aging due to the wear and tear of metabolism and daily life. Because of pollution, toxins and stress, we have a greater need today than ever before for antioxidant nutrition.

When your body is low on antioxidant protection, your immune system spends tremendous energy in assessing cellular damage, trying to repair damage or in removing damaged cells.  At this point, the damage begins to cause chronic inflammatory diseases in one area or another.

  • Eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and colored vegetables daily. The old adage, ‘An apple a day’ was right!  Just add in blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, carrots…any food with natural color.
  • Find time to play!  We all need time to relax…and not in front of the TV!

  • Find and use a whole food based antioxidant supplement daily.

Not all supplements are created equal.  Use only natural whole food complexes, enzymes, and extracts.


Regenerative nutrients are foods scientifically proven to enhance and support healthy genetic expression and adult stem cell production. Your environment, lifestyle and dietary choices interact with your genes and can in fact, help you have the strongest genetics possible.

With the right nutrients, and depending on your age, your body will produce adult stem cells to replace older or dying cells, keeping your body in a state of vital health. Some lifestyle and food options to consider when thinking of regenerative nutrition include:

REMOVE these habits and foods:

  • Smoking

  • Excess alcohol (more than two drinks a day)

  • Processed meats

  • Baked, processed carbohydrates

  • Hydrogenated or trans fats

ADD in these habits and foods:

  • Exercise

  • Adequate sleep

  • Nutrient dense foods which are low in calories, i.e., superfoods.

  • Fiber rich foods

  • Antioxidant rich foods

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as cold-water fish, nuts and seeds

The 4 Building Blocks enlighten you about foods that are essential for good health.  With this information, you are empowered to make the best food and supplement choices for your desired outcome.

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Author Bio:For nearly 20 years, Barbara Swanson has researched functional nutrition and how it affects the body. Swanson has taken her findings across the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom, teaching and lecturing her field of study for over a decade. Today, she works out of Ashland, Oregon where she is the owner of a nutritional marketing and consultant company. She has recently published her nutritional handbook Beyond Foods. You can find more information on Swanson and her book at