Ashley Koch, MS, CNS

UWS Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine Alumna

Ashley Koch headshot

Program & Concentration: MS-HNFM

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Graduation Year: 2021

Bio: Ashley Koch, MS, CNS is a functional medicine nutritionist, Certified Nutrition Specialist, and educator who works with adults, teens and children. She provides care in-person and virtually at BioLounge, a functional medicine clinic in Portland, Oregon. She is the co-creator and co-lead of the BioLounge Clinical Nutrition Immersion program, a 12-week course built to bridge the gap between education and clinical practice for master-level nutritionists while providing CNS supervision, community and functional medicine experience. She is the lead of the BioLounge internship program, which gives future providers opportunities to participate in a thriving practice. She is also the co-developer of The Steady Hall, workshops to empower and educate teen girls on how to own and prioritize their personal wellness.

In her clinical practice, Ashley works with clients to identify and address digestive issues, inflammatory triggers, nutritional deficiencies, gut health, autoimmunity and immune health to reverse their chronic disease states and symptoms. Her passion lies in the art of the investigation with patients which allows her to identify inflammatory triggers, addressing biochemical imbalances, reversing autoimmune states and mitigating autoimmune events. She utilizes evidence-based laboratory testing, an in-depth intake process, and her ability to make personal connections to allow clients to feel seen and heard in their chronic disease story. Her work is collaborative, compassionate and comprehensive. Ashley’s goal is to put clients in the driver’s seat of their health journey and provide education to empower them beyond their time working together.

Tell us about what you have been up to since graduation? What are you doing now?

Since graduation, I was able to turn my internship into an employment opportunity. I joined Biolounge, a thriving functional medicine practice located in my local community. The clients I have the chance to encounter range from child to adult and most of them end up in my office feeling miserable or uncomfortable after exploring many paths. The first year of my practice was exhilarating and exhausting, but the best part was getting to watch so many of my clients get better and feel better.

Where does your passion for functional medicine stem from?

Twenty years ago, I was the least likely person to be pursuing work as a functional medicine provider. I was a recent college graduate suffering from numerous chronic conditions with several diagnoses and my diet and lifestyle consisted of refined carbohydrates, chemicals, processed foods, an endless supply of sugar, a litany of doctors and a small pharmacy of medications to get me through the week. Fast forward to motherhood and I started watching my babies heading on a similar chronic disease path as I had in childhood. I was determined to halt this progression and pursued care for myself and family with an investigative integrative doctor, acupuncturist, chiropractor and functional medicine pediatrician that helped me turn it all around for myself and my family. I knew I had to learn everything I could about this approach to care to help my family, my friends, and my community, and that is how I ended up at UWS!

What is your favorite memory from your time as a UWS student?

The knowledge and science set me free! One distinct memory was during a lecture with Bryan Walsh on cells and mitochondria. It was a gift to start building an understanding of what cells need to thrive and the many important roles of the mitochondria beyond energy. I know this sounds geeky, but this moment really changed the path of how I understood the body, which informs my practice today! My second favorite moment would be when my professors taught me how to be my own best researcher, because this meant I could build my own evidence-based protocols and solutions. These were my big aha moments!

How did your time at UWS prepare you for your career and life?

So often I tell my fellow graduates and clinical nutrition immersion students that are UWS students and alumni, we are ready, and we have one of the best nutrition and functional medication educations available to put into practice! I felt incredibly prepared to start the investigative work to identify biochemical imbalances and apply nutrition strategies, herbal and supplement interventions and various therapies to address the whole patient!

What was your favorite part about the online format of the program?

When the program started, I had an infant and toddler and a settled life in San Francisco. Eventually I relocated to Portland, Oregon while finishing my education. I needed a program that could fit into my life and the online format was ideal for my family. UWS does an outstanding job providing a world class education in a virtual format! I loved being able to finish my education from anywhere at any time.

What is a piece of advice you’d offer to current UWS human nutrition and functional medicine students?

Make connections, pursue opportunities to gain experience and consider starting the work towards your potential CNS certification! It is never too early to start making connections to those who might be practicing in a way you are curious about. Pursue providers that are using an approach that you want to learn more about. I had the opportunity to have informational interviews with fellow alumni, shadow a functional medicine pediatrician and intern with UWS alumni to start gaining clinical experience and banking CNS hours prior to graduation. These connections and opportunities set me on a path to a successful practice.

What made you choose UWS over other schools?

After many conversations with current students and alumni of other master’s-level nutrition programs, it was clear that UWS created a one-of-a-kind education built to set us apart as providers. Now having the opportunity to teach master’s-level nutritionists, I see what sets UWS apart firsthand in my students! UWS has outstanding professors and teaching staff and provides science-based education that will allow students to build successful practices and have an impact on people. The UWS education created a foundation for me to pursue life-long education and truly understand the complexities of the human body in ways that are actionable for my clients.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?

In my downtime, I spend a lot of time in Portland’s urban forest, Forest Park. I rely on spending time with my dear friends and going on adventures with my children to re-energize me. When time is limited, I rely on the cyclic sighing breathing technique to get my nervous system back online between appointments or at the beginning and end of a workday.