Our Approach

We employ a personalized approach that addresses chronic conditions with a focus on finding the core imbalances or underlying root causes rather than just simply chasing symptoms or using a “band aid” to mask the problem.

The Functional Approach We Use at Fortitude Functional Nutrition

At Fortitude Functional Nutrition we spend quality time with clients, listening to their histories, struggles and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle choices, including food, exercise, stress management and emotional well-being. On a deeper level, we determine how the biochemistry of the body interacts with nutrients, hormones, and vitamins, identifying deficiencies and surpluses, as well as addressing chemical processes in the body that may be defective or under/over-functioning.

Functional nutrition is highly personalized. It identifies specific factors that are contributing to a given collection of symptoms. As we dig deeper, we utilize functional testing to identify issues unique to the individual client. The human body is an extraordinarily complex system.  By addressing it with functional nutrition, we are essentially putting the body in a place where it can help repair itself. 

Julie Olson has worked with Medical Doctors in Functional Medicine practices becoming proficient utilizing a tool called the Functional Medicine Matrix that incorporates Fortitude Functional Nutrition’s approach as explained below. She is not a medical doctor nor does she claim to diagnose or treat diseases. We also use the 5-R’s Phased Approach that the Institute of Functional Medicine refers to as the Five “R” Framework and labs may refer to as the 5R Treatment Protocol. 


A properly functioning digestive system is critical to good health. In fact, problems with your gastro-intestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach aches, gas, bloating or diarrhea. GI issues may underlie chronic health problems that seem unrelated to digestive health, including autoimmune diseases, skin problems, chronic fatigue and heart disease (just to name a few). The elements of our 5R-phased approach are described briefly below:

Phase 1: REMOVE

Remove stressors. Get rid of offenders negatively affecting the environment of the GI tract including allergic or intolerant foods, biotoxins, parasites, and problematic bacteria and yeast. 


Phase 2: REPLACE

Replace digestive secretions to restore proper digestion. Supplement  for proper digestion that may be compromised by food choices, medications, diseases or other factors.


Recolonization with healthy, beneficial bacteria. Supplementation and foods that contain probiotics, along with prebiotics, help re-establish the proper microbial balance.

Phase 4: REPAIR

Help repair damage to the gut by supplying key nutrients that are often in short supply within a compromised gut. 


Address whole-body health and lifestyle choices. Sleep quality, stress levels, work-life balance, and social support will all be assessed. Any imbalances can negatively affect the GI tract. 

Adjusting, Based on Client Response

The client is monitored and tracked, and if showing improvement our CONQUER IT NOW HEALTH PROGRAM is working. If not, then more key contributing factors will be addressed and other advanced functional tests can be completed. Throughout our program we continue to fine-tune each client’s protocol until we conquer the client’s health goals.

 The Functional Medicine Matrix

One of the tools we utilize during our approach and analysis is the Functional Medicine Matrix called the LivingMatrix™ which is a virtual comprehensive client questionnaire which builds the client’s visual and virtual timeline and matrix. It is a powerful tool that enables clients to easily document the unfolding phenomena that lead to ill health – a process that often occurs over many years or even a lifetime. The Functional Medicine LivingMatrix™ assists us in organizing and prioritizing each client’s health issues as obtained by a thorough personal, family, social, and medical history. LivingMatrix is built on an algorithm based on each client’s answers to the intake form — it organizes issues into a complete story to gain a comprehensive perspective of each client, which helps unfold how their story led to imbalances in symptoms to eventually chronic disease.

The Importance of Filling-out your Functional Medicine Questionnaire

Your current state of health and symptoms are an accumulation of actions, events, and environmental influences that have taken place over the course of your entire life. Events in your distant past, even your childhood years, may provide clues to solving the puzzle and identifying the root cause. Though we may not think so, events that occurred before or at birth may play a role. Scientists are discovering that our genes and the way they are expressed are influenced by what our ancestors may have experienced several generations ago. In fact, this discovery has spawned a whole new scientific discipline – epigenetics – to understand how our nutrition, lifestyle, environment, and events in our daily life influence gene expression.

Imagine that somehow last winter your backyard garden had a spill of gasoline and you didn’t know about it. In the spring your seedlings do not take root and grow, leaving you wondering “what’s wrong with these seedlings”? If a botanist looked at a plant and saw the leaves were turning brown, they would not just spray paint the leaves green again. The botanist would look at the stems, the roots, and the soil for information which may provide the healing solution. This is how our functional approach works. That’s why a “Big Picture” history is so important on each client.

We Want to Know the “ROOT CAUSE” or the “WHY”? Discovering the “WHY” to Fix the “WHAT”

The Functional Medicine LivingMatrix™ is an intuitive system that allows us to put on our detective hat to consider ALL of the client’s potential causes of dysfunction so that we can recommend nutrition interventions that address these root causes. This process goes beyond the surface, digging down beyond the obvious to identify core imbalances, antecedents, triggers and mediators that all contribute to each client’s lifelong story that provide valuable clues and patterns. It also helps monitor and track each client’s progress on the path to establish goals.

The Value of Your Functional Medicine Timeline

As an intake tool for organizing your history chronologically, the Functional Medicine LivingMatrix™ Timeline is a graphical representation that allows us to identify factors that predispose, provoke, and contribute to pathological changes and dysfunctional responses with each client. In this way, Julie Olson will be able to view temporal relationships among events which can reveal cause-effect relationships that might otherwise go unnoticed. By covering the period from preconception to the present, the timeline reflects the connection between your whole lifespan to your current state of health. Once you see your personal timeline, you will have a much better understanding of why the date entries we ask for (all symptoms, illnesses, conditions, and full family and health history) are a very important part of the process. By documenting the actions, events, and environmental influences that have occurred in your life it allows for the construction of meaning and a “Big Picture” view of how your body got to where it is today.

The Functional Medicine LivingMatrix™ Report is Organized in 3 Sections:

Section 1: The Client’s Story

“Retelling the client’s story” is the way we organize the client’s pathogenesis into “antecedents, triggers, and mediators” on the timeline. These include:

  • Antecedents are any factors that predispose the patient to being unhealthy. These could be genetic or environmental (nutrition, physical fitness, etc.).
  • Triggers are any factors that provoke the signs and symptoms of a condition. Some examples are infection, trauma, environmental toxins, or allergic, intolerant or sensitive foods.
  • Mediators are any factors that contribute to clinical changes and dysfunctional responses. These mediators can include biochemical factors like hormones, or they might be psychosocial factors, like the client’s thoughts and beliefs.

Section 2: The 7 Core Imbalances

The Functional Medicine LivingMatrix contains what the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) considers to be the “seven potential core imbalances” that may underlie any health problem. By filling out the questionnaire, each client will create their own health matrix. These include:

1) Assimilation includes digestion, absorption, respiration, and the gut microbiome.
2) Defense & Repair refers to immunity, inflammation, and infection.
3) Energy deals with energy regulation and mitochondrial function.
4) Biotransformation & Elimination involves toxicity and detoxification.
5) Transport describes the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems.
6) Communication is comprised of neurotransmitters, endocrine, and immune messengers.
7) Structural Integrity encompasses everything from subcellular membranes to musculoskeletal structure.

Section 3: Lifestyle Factors

This section organizes each client’s modifiable lifestyle factors into five categories:

1) Sleep & Relaxation
2) Exercise & Movement
3) Nutrition
4) Stress
5) Relationships

Our approach connects the dots between imbalances and symptoms, delving into the root causes – which is an integral part of our program and helps us tailor each client’s lab recommendations, personalized protocols, customized meals plans and targeted supplement programs.

Take The First Step On Your Journey Back To Health

Maybe you have some questions you’d like to ask before you make a decision to become a client. We are happy to answer any questions you may have to see whether or not Fortitude Functional Nutrition is right for you.