20 Dec What is Nutritional Therapy
When you’re in need of extra support for persistent symptoms, or just looking for simple dietary advice to help you and your family to live happier healthier lives, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start looking or who to trust.
There is so much information available now about how to eat, live, breathe etc. that it can become overwhelming trying to work out what is right for you and what should be totally ignored! And with our busy lives, when do we have the time to do all this research anyway!!
So what is Nutritional Therapy and how can it help?
Nutritional therapists are trained to assess an individual’s symptoms using a functional medicine approach (for more on Functional Medicine please see here). In short, they follow an approach which looks at the biological systems of the body and focusses on searching for the root cause of a symptom or disease (such as diet, lifestyle, environment or genes).
Nutritional therapists do not diagnose or treat disease but apply a science-based approach, using nutrition, to promote individual health. They can access a range of tools, such as testing, to assess and identify potential nutritional imbalances and to understand how these may contribute to an individual’s symptoms and health concerns. Using this information they are able to support you with addressing your health goals or with a whole range of health conditions ranging from issues such as dry skin, low energy and insomnia to serious chronic health complaints such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis or depression (but are always complementary to existing medical provision).
Nutritional Therapy is not a magic pill or quick fix for a problem. Making change takes time and persistence (we are here to help you with this). It is also not a substitute for medical care but a great way to complement it. It provides an amazing opportunity for:
- empowering people to take ownership of their health,
- helping people to understand their bodies,
- encouraging preventative health care (taking action before the event rather than after)
The consultation process
- Book in for a free discovery call. This is a great opportunity to discuss:
• what you are looking for from the consultation process,
• whether the practitioner is the right fit for you and
• if the practitioner feels they can help you or if you would be better served by another professional
• which package is most appropriate for you
- Before the initial appointment – you will be required to complete a comprehensive questionnaire and food diary in order to provide information regarding your diet, lifestyle and health history.
- At the initial appointment – this is an opportunity to get to know you and dig deeper into the information you have provided, discuss goals and collaboratively map out a plan to help you achieve these through diet and lifestyle. It may be that some tests are recommended (either via your GP or privately) and supplementation can be discussed (if appropriate) but we prefer a “food first” approach.
- Follow up consultations – help to keep you on track, discuss test results and adjust the plan if needed.
Further to any tests which may be recommended through your GP, we also may suggest additional functional or genetic tests. If this is the case, then we will support you in accessing these. These may include providing blood, urine, saliva and stool samples to allow analysis of your individual biochemistry, genetics and microbiome status and are conducted in order to provide amazing insights to inform any recommendations for meeting your health goals.
Nutritional Therapy Qualification (with ION)
The Institute of Optimum Nutrition’s (ION) Nutritional Therapy course combines the latest theoretical knowledge from nutrition, science and psychology of behaviour change combined with real world clinical training. Modules cover areas such as the biochemistry and physiology of immune, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, detoxification and neuroendocrine function as well as exploration of the impact of nutrition on underlying biochemical imbalances, diseases and conditions. The course builds an in-depth understanding of the role that nutrition and lifestyle plays in human health and wellbeing.
Nutritional Therapy and other nutritional support providers
Unfortunately, the title ‘nutritional therapist’ is not protected so, to ensure that you are getting an approved therapist, they must be registered with BANT (The British Association of Nutritional Therapists) and the CNHC (The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council). Only if a practitioner has completed an accredited course at degree level or a post graduate diploma can they apply for BANT membership. Registration is voluntary, but all therapists who are members have to be trained from an accredited course, have to annually prove they are continuing their training and have to abide by specific codes of conduct to remain certified and be insured. These will usually be clearly stated on their websites but you can also verify registration by going onto the websites for BANT and the CNHC.
Other qualified nutritional support providers are:
- Dieticians – work within the medical system or in private clinics. They are clinically trained, working within the traditional medical model and are qualified to diagnose and treat complex clinical conditions such as diabetes, food allergies and intolerances, IBS syndrome, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, malnutrition, kidney failure and bowel disorders. Only those registered with the statutory regulator, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), can call themselves a dietitian and the only route to become one is through degree-level education.
- Nutrition scientists (Nutritionists) often work outside of the clinical context in research, industry or education. Professionals from accredited courses can then apply to the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) and call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs). A Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) has graduated within the last 3 years and will normally be working within a team with relevant professional oversight.
Sadly, there remains some negative judgement towards the validity of Nutritional Therapy but I believe that it comes from a lack of up to date knowledge about what is now offered by registered professionals, the research based scientific approach used and advancements in testing options. BANT is working hard to raise the awareness of Nutritional Therapy and its equivalence to that of Dietitians and Nutritionists.