Juston Jaco

HNFM Alumnus

Juston Jaco

Program & Concentration: Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

Hometown: Allegan, Mich.

Expected Graduation Date: 2019

Prior Education or Experience: University of Michigan - Joint Undergraduate Degree Program: School of Natural Resources & Environment and College of Literature, Science and the Arts – Honors Program Major: Highest Honors in Environment (Conservation Biology Specialization); BS Major: Spanish Language and Literature

Why did you choose UWS?

I chose UWS because they were the only school in the country that partnered with the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). IFM is a science-based and patient-centered approach to achieving and maintaining excellent health, thereby actively supporting whole-person wellness. It is THE model of health care that addresses the causes of disease and dysfunction rather than suppressing symptoms. This is the kind of health care I want for myself and the toolkit that I ultimately want to work from. I chose UWS, because I wanted my introduction into health to be one that was functional–i.e. that worked for real people.

What was your favorite class/instructor at UWS?

The Gastrointestinal Imbalances course with Dr. Jason Hawrelak was my favorite. If the 20th century was defined by antibiotics, then the 21st century will be defined by probiotics–i.e. restoring what we’re losing at a rapid rate. It is so funny to me how shifts happen like that. In truth, learning that the human body has more bacteria than human cells was beyond eye-opening. I love that we are seeing doctors across the board treating patients with pre- and probiotics to help rebalance and restore various health complaints.

How did the education you received at UWS empower you to take this next step in your educational journey?

I am currently enroute to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) and Functional Medicine Practitioner so I can work with people one-on-one. I knew that with this education I would be the most prepared to take on the chronic health issues facing our country. More broadly, I also want to help form initiatives that implement common-sense policies for protecting people, the environment and the food we eat. If the environment is sick, we are sick. If the food is toxic, we consume the toxicants and are sick. It is that simple, but we can change that. This is why I am obtaining my master’s in public health in nutrition at Harvard. These two educational programs are very much yin and yang to me.

What made you decide on this education and career path?

In short, changing my diet saved my life. When I began my search into what was going wrong with me, I just wanted answers. Getting to the truth was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. Through functional medicine, however, I saw dramatic shifts in my overall health. It was a road I never intended to venture down. Now that I am on it, I cannot turn back. I fundamentally believe health is our greatest wealth and I want to empower others to feel the same way.

What is your ultimate career goal?

I have always feared being just one thing. When I started down this path, I knew I wanted to blend my diverse interests. Beyond becoming a functional medicine practitioner and nutritionist, I want to build safe green environments and herbal gardens, author publications, and educate health clinics and hospitals on how to use nutrition to impact blood chemistry and aberrant lab results.

Incontrovertible proof is out there and my mission is to spread truth. Doctors, naturopaths and other health care providers do not get any functional nutrition education and patients expect they can provide sound information, but that is not always the case. And it needs to change. If it does not, more people will stay sick longer, just like I had been for years.

What is your favorite activity to de-stress?

Laughter is a gift for the soul when you share it with others. I enjoy going to comedy clubs, improv shows, hosting game nights and watching funny classics from my childhood. I also love bright days and warm nights. You will always catch me outside on a sunny day!