Functional Diagnostic Nutrition: A Cautionary Tale

Reed Davis

Reed Davis

AV asks: “Have you heard of something called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition? If so, is this program compatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church?”

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN), the brainchild of Reed Davis, who has no background in medicine, is a relatively new company based in Poway, California. It claims to be related to the field of functional medicine (which is considered to be an alternative or pseudoscience) which focuses on a personalized approach to medicine in which a client’s health is determined through diagnostic tests.

In the FDN Self Care plan, clients are tested for immune function, digestion, detoxification, and hormones. Depending on the results, they are treated with a variety of natural protocols and lifestyle changes. Clients work with a Health Coach who is trained in FDN and who acts as a kind of “health detective” to discover the root cause of a client’s ailment.

The FDNPlan is basically a four-step program that begins with self lab tests which require the individual to submit samples (urine, hair, etc.) to a lab. The results are then sent to the Health Coach who conducts an interpretation session with the client. The Coach then creates a health plan based on the test results and the client’s history. The two then work together to help the client integrate the plan into their lifestyle.

This all sounds very good until you begin to dig beneath the surface.

For starters, there are no scientific studies of FDN offered on the website (or anywhere else that I could find) to back up any of its claims. Only customer testimonials are provided.

I became even more concerned when I delved into the background of the founder, Davis. For example, he claims to be a Nutritional Therapist but he achieved his certification through the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health.This organization is dedicated to promoting the work of an inventor known as Dr. Royal Lee who seems to have spent the better part of his career in trouble with the Food and Drug Administration for making false claims about phony products.

To be fair, there is a doctor on the FDN staff, Dr. William R. Bailey, D.O., who is the medical director of the organization. According to his bio, he is board certified in family practice and has spent the last 20 years practicing complementary medicine.

But the rest of the staff reads like a “who’s who” list in “holistic” (read New Age) medicine with backgrounds in aromatherapy, massage therapy, yoga and Reiki.

I was not surprised to come across a not-so-glowing review of FDN on the consumer-driven review site, Highya. They were understandably cautious about this company, particularly because there are no on-line customer reviews and because they do not provide detailed information about their program on their website. Nor do they offer any information about the cost of the program or how exactly it works.

“In our experience, it’s typically not a good sign when a company is purposely vague about the product or service they offer. This, in combination with the lack of customer reviews, would lead us to recommend caution when dealing with FDN Self Care.”

As for how compatible this is with Catholic teaching, we are expected to rely upon “ordinary means” (science-based medicine) to treat any life-threatening (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) or communicable diseases. Relying on untested methods such as FDN rather than on established science for anything serious would not be in keeping with the dictates of our faith because this would be tantamount to engaging in “superstitious medicine”.

If you are in need of nutritional counseling, my suggestion would be to enlist the services of a properly trained nutritionist (RDs or RDNs) and avoid anyone who engages in alternative medicine. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the oldest and largest association of food and nutrition experts in the U.S., has a useful search tool on its site to help you locate a nutritionist in your area.

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