Jackie Justice is a functional nutritionist. If you don’t know what this is, that’s okay. Justice, 59, is used to it. Most people don’t understand what you do for a living.
A functional dietitian gets to the root of a person’s wellness issues, and prevents diseases from developing in the future. So, if someone has blood sugar issues, you don’t just say, ‘Okay, take this drug,’ says Justice, who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, and has a son and daughter in their 20s. Do you have blood sugar issues? How is your diet? What is your family history? What can we do to help solve this root problem so that your blood sugar is stable, and you don’t have to take any medication?”
“Functional medicine doctors are great. They do the right tests, they know how to interpret them, but almost one hundred percent never work with a person’s food,” she says. “They would honestly say, ‘Oh, don’t eat sugar.’ But they don’t actually offer a meal plan that anyone can take home. We do.”
Through specific tests, Justices will look at her client’s blood chemistry and food sensitivities, then develop a specific diet and lifestyle plan based on their individual needs. She also teaches many of the most popular courses on the DailyOM wellness site, including “Live the Sweet Life Without Sugar” and “Break Midmenopause in 10 Days.”
Menopause and menopause are one of her specialties. With these clients, you might do a full thyroid panel, for example, which can shed some light on why a woman’s hair is falling out, why her skin is dry, or why it’s so difficult for her to lose weight. With blood tests, the Justice can get better insights into what’s really going on. Then she will recommend specific foods or even supplements that will help them.
But, as she noted, “Not all the supplements in the world will help you if you don’t make the lifestyle changes you need to make to lower stress hormones, like meditation and deep breathing.”
How personal challenges led to a personal and professional journey
“Almost every dietitian is a dietitian because they have some health issues themselves,” she says. As a teenager, she was often sick, and would turn to antibiotics for help. Soon she developed gastrointestinal symptoms. The doctors found nothing, but she was still uncomfortable. “That’s when I started reading and researching and researching and searching for all these things,” she says.
For nearly a decade, I’ve gone from dietitian to naturopathic to homeopathic, trying to find the source of the problem. She finally found out she had a massive yeast overgrowth from taking all those antibiotics over the years. “I had all these food sensitivities, so she put me on a protocol and within a month it was a complete transformation,” she says. “I no longer have gut issues.”
Her approach to treatment was unusual during the 1970s and 1980s. “Today, the gut microbiome is one of the most studied organs in the body, so every day there is more information. But that was not the case in 1990.”
Justice has an art degree from Pace University and has worked in fashion in New York City for eight years, selling women’s accessories. It was fun for a while, but she didn’t feel like she was doing anything important in her life. She began to look around to see what was really interesting to her, and settled on feeding. Within a week, she was on a five-year master’s program in nutrition at New York Medical School.
“I knew I didn’t want to be a registered dietitian, and I knew I didn’t want to work in a hospital,” she says. “I knew I wanted to help people prevent things.”
In 2013, she presented a training course to DailyOM, “Mojo Weight Loss”, which became one of the most popular on the site.
“Food is the most important thing,” says Justice. “It’s more important than exercise. It’s more important than supplementation. Food is medicine. And if you don’t eat the foods that nourish your body, you’re not getting anywhere.”