Are you a nutritionist?

The simple answer to this question is no. Though nutritionists, dieticians and nutritional therapists all focus on giving nutritional advice there are some significant differences between them.

Dieticians tend to work within the NHS under the direction of a GP with  patients with diagnosed medical conditions. They create dietary plans for patients basing their advice on reference nutrient intakes (RNIs) which are government guidelines on the amount of nutrients required by the majority of the population to avoid deficiencies and  the ‘Balance of Good Health’  model (www.eatwell.gov.uk). They do not take into account biochemical individuality.

Nutritionists like dieticians are registered with the Nutrition Society and base their recommendations on the same principles. However  they tend to work outside of a clinical setting providing information about food and healthy eating to the public for example via the government or food industry.

Nutritional Therapists are independent complementary therapists who take a holistic and individual approach to their client’s health. They recognise the limitations of transferring population guidelines to individuals and instead create carefully tailored diet and lifestyle programmes. They tend to view RNIs as inadequate and instead work with optimum nutrient intakes to achieve optimum health rather than simply avoiding deficiency.  They look beyond symptoms and aim to identify underlying causes of health problems. Recommendations may include guidance on natural detoxification, methods to support digestion and absorption, the avoidance of toxins or allergens and the appropriate use of supplementary nutrients, including phytonutrients.Though independent, they often work alongside conventional medical practitioners especially with patients with chronic health problems which are hard to treat by conventional medicine.

Adapted from:

British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT), (2011). Briefing notes. Available at www.bant.org.uk Accessed 15/09/2011.

How will I benefit from seeing a nutritional therapist?

Nutrition is fundamentally linked with health. Research is increasingly recognising that foods have nutritive value beyond that related to the energy they provide (i.e. calories) or macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) quantity and quality. Food is packed full of complex, biologically active molecules and hence its impact on health should be of no surprise. This includes the ability of good nutrition to heal; as Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine himself said “let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”.  What is difficult is the teasing apart all of the complex elements in food and working out their impact on the body.  This is where a qualified nutritional therapist’s expertise can help by working with you to achieve the best food selection for your personal needs.

Importantly nutritional therapy is an individual-centred approach to healthcare. It employs careful assessment and tailored intervention to assist an individual to optimise his or her physiological, emotional, cognitive and physiological function by creating equilibrium or homeostasis in the body. Nutrition and lifestyle approaches to healthcare have been repeatedly shown to support all the major systems of the body, i.e., skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory, endocrine, immune, reproductive and integumentary (skin, hair and nails). Addressing root causes of health problems, rather than just symptoms, also increases the potential for improved health and quality of life as well helping to reduce the risk of many serious conditions.

 


What can I expect from a nutritional therapy consultation?

A first consultation lasts between 60-75 minutes and is broken into 3 sections. The first section will be a discussion about the health questionnaire and food diary you will have completed prior to your appointment. You will be asked lots of questions so the therapist will be able to analyse your nutritional intake, dietary habits and health status. This will possibly be complemented by taking measurements (e.g waist circumference or blood pressure) or using diagnostic procedures such as tongue or nail anaylsis.

In the second section, your individual strategy for health will be created which links your health needs to nutritional imbalances.

In the third section, you will work with the therapist to create a nourishing programme suitable for your individual circumstances which is realistic and easy to follow. The key focus of the programme will be a dietary plan though it will also likely include lifestyle changes and nutrient or botanical supplement recommendations.  You may also be advised to undergo further testing , either via your GP or a laboratory recommended by your therapist.  Importantly during this stage you will be provided with all the support and encouragement you require to make the agreed modifications.

Follow-up consultations lasts between 45-60 minutes during which time your progress will be discussed and modifications to your programme made to ensure continued improvements in your wellbeing.

 


 Where Are Nutritional Therapy Consultations Held?

Cheltenham Clinic :
  
Leckhampton, GL53
 
Or in the comfort of your own home (within 30 miles of  Leckhampton)

London Clinic:
 
 The Nutrition Coach at The Birth Company
137 Harley Street, London
W1G 6BG
 
For your convenience, follow-up consultations can  also be held via telephone or Skype.
 

How long will it take me to feel better using nutritional therapy?

This is a difficult question to answer as it will depend on the individual reasons you have decided to see a nutritional therapist.  What is important to remember is that, because nutritional therapy focusses on addressing the root cause of health issues and achieving optimum health rather than just the avoidance of ill-health, it is not a ‘quick fix’ solution.  Whereas you may be able to get enough information to make dietary and lifestyle changes which can improve your wellbeing from one or two consultations, nutritional therapy works best when you work with your therapist over time to achieve optimium health in the short -term and prevent health problems in the long-term. Whatever you decide to do however is your choice and you will never be pressured to make appointments if you are not happy to.  Whether you see your therapist once or many times, a general rule of thumb is that any changes you make including taking supplements should be followed for a minimum of 3 months for major benefits to be seen.

 


Nourishing NutritionWill I need to take supplements?

Again, the answer to this question completely depends on your circumstances.  Supplements should never be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and the primary focus of your nourishing plan will always be dietary modifications. However, there are often distinct benefits in using specific food supplements and nutritional substrates in combination with a well balanced diet and lifestyle programme.

For example, though severe vitamin and mineral deficiency is relatively uncommon in the Western world, research is confirming that modest deficiency is very common1 . Reviewing this research, Gerald Weissman, M.D., Editor-in Chief of the Journal of American Societies for Experimental Biology concludes  that ‘this paper should settle  any debate about the importance of taking a good, complete multivitamin everyday’ and that ‘taking a multivitamin that contains selenium is a good way to prevent deficiencies that, over time can cause harm in ways that we are just beginning to understand’.

So why can’t we get optimum levels of nutrients from the diet alone? There are 3 key reasons. Firstly, many of us still do not eat a well-balanced diet. For example ,  many of the UK population are still not eating the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Secondly, the foods we are eating are depleted of nutrients. This is because foods are grown in nutrient depleted soils, picked before they are ripened, stored for long periods, transported for long distances and processed. Thirdly, our bodies require higher levels of certain nutrients than they used to. This is because we are exposed to more environmental pollutants such as pesticides, fertilisers and plastics as well as stress, alcohol, tobacco and medications all of which deplete nutrients in the body or inhibit their absorption.

Having said all this, do not worry if you don’t feel comfortable with taking supplements, your choice will always be respected and here is a lot that can be done through diet and lifestyle changes alone.

  1. Mcann JC, Ames, BN (2011). Adaptive dysfunction of selenoproteins from the perspective of the triage theory: why modest selenium deficiency may increase the risk of ageing. FASEB J. Jun 25 (6): 1793-814. Epub. Accessed 15/8/11. http://tinyurl.com/64h5sx2

 


How can I optimise my nutrient intake and health?

In order to maximise you nutrient intake and your potential to achieve optimum health it is always best to see a nutritional therapist on an individual basis so your health status, diet and lifestyle can be carefully assessed.  However there 10 simple dietary guidelines you can follow to get you started on your journey to optimum health and vitality:

1. Choose locally grown, fresh, organic produce where possible

2. Eat in season

3. Eat wholefoods and avoid highly processed foods

4. Eat a wide variety of foods

5. Include brightly coloured foods in your diet daily

6. Avoid foods your great grandparents would’t recognise

8. Drink at least 8 glasses of good quality water daily

9. Chose brown foods over white

10. Eat slowly and mindfully