Functional and Integrative Nutrition

We recognize that diet and mental health are inextricably linked.  Healthy diet choices can improve mental health while mental health issues can lead to poor eating habits.  When our mental health is negatively affected, the root of the problem is not solely in the brain, but a signal that one or more of the body’s connections with the brain have become askew.

The mind-body connection:  Illnesses of the body frequently manifest as instability of the mind.  Our gut is often referred to as “the second brain” due to the complex nervous system it holds. More specifically, chemicals produced by the gut can reach the brain and chemicals produced by the brain can reach the gut.  When chemical over or underproduction disrupts this natural gut-brain connection, the balance becomes chaotic.  Moods are upset.  Concentration is disrupted.  Immunity drops.  Therefore, if diet, stress, and/or other mental or physical problems cause changes in the gut, this creates a ripple effect that can lead to many negative impacts on the health of our brain and body.

Why should one see both a nutritionist and a mental health professional?   All it takes is 2 hours’ worth of psychological stress to completely change your gut bacteria; the stuff responsible for making many of the brain chemicals that promote healthy mood, focus and emotional regulation.  Certain foods promote the growth of helpful bacteria, while others inhibit this.  Learning how to use healthy food to ensure your brain is working efficiently and effectively will greatly supplement your mental health treatment, and the inverse is true as well.  By examining the whole person and their lifestyle choices, we are better able to treat and promote more effective, and longer lasting treatment outcomes.

Who we partner with and why?

Why Integrative/Functional Nutrition?  Illuminate Therapy & Wellness partners with integrative and functional nutritionists and dieticians to assist our clients achieve and/or maintain a healthy gut-brain balance.  They are a specialty practice group whose core philosophy centers around a holistic, personalized approach to health and healing. They integrate a variety of nutrition therapies including whole foods, tailored supplements and mind body modalities in clinical practice. 

How it works:

Your therapist will discuss recommendations for the appropriate referral for your specific dietary and mental health needs.  We partner with the following licensed and/or certified nutritionists and dieticians:

Nutrition Hive – They explore your nutritional “blueprint”, create a personalized health plan and help you make lasting, lifelong changes. They work with your therapist to specifically target mental and/or physical health symptoms using nutrition.  Packages do not include the initial assessment.

Decide2Thrive – An integrative nutrition health coach that helps parents navigate the complex world of health and nutrition.  Jill May supports you and your family in creating a personalized nutritional and lifestyle plan for your unique situation.

Accessing Nutrition Services:

Click Here for Healthy Recipes to Improve Mood and Overall Mental Health

Nutrition Hive Packages for Illuminate Therapy & Wellness


Deficiencies in certain types of foods can worsen symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. The good news: An ADHD diet that boasts adequate levels of the right foods actually optimizes brain function. A nutrition plan rich in protein and vitamins can help control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Eating Disorders

Nutrition is a major player in the high prevalence and incidence of eating disorders, with evidence that diet and nutrition are critical to recovery. With all eating disorders, there are nutrient deficiencies, chronic fatigue, reduced immune function, loss of lean body mass, and altered brain function. Working with a licensed nutritionist/dietician will be a requirement of your treatment plan if you have an eating disorder.


The literature suggests a link between dietary habits and the risk of depression. Studies have implicated a relatively low intake of fish, omega 3 fatty acids, and fruits and vegetables as well as deficiencies in micronutrients (folic acid, thiamine, magnesium) as risk factors for depression. In addition, relatively high amounts of refined sugar and processed foods have shown to increase the risk of depression. Correcting nutrient deficiencies or minimizing the excessive intake of certain micronutrients or foods can reduce the risk and/or the symptoms of depression. 


The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion, and anxiety can trigger symptoms in the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. Nutrition can help decrease anxiety by boosting levels of serotonin, a calming and feel-good brain chemical and decreasing levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that can wreak havoc on our body over time. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by strengthening the immune system and lowering blood pressure.

PTSD/Oppositionality/Emotional Dysregulation

Our bodies respond to emotions with a “fight or flight system,” related to our cortisol levels. Prolonged states of emotional distress are known to overwork adrenal glands and result in chronic inflammation which affects many of the body’s functions including metabolism, blood sugar balance and our cardiovascular system. Just as stress affects nutrition, good nutrition and dietary practices have also been found to improve the poor state of individuals suffering from stress and its resultant illnesses. Certain foods have physiological characteristics referred to as functional or brain foods which help to combat a substantial amount of stress-induced mental disorders.