- Title: The Nutritional Medicine Approach: is it for me?
- Date: 01 December 2020
The Nutritional Medicine Approach: is it for me?
What is nutritional medicine?
Have you really ever stopped to consider how amazing the human body is?
Nutritional medicine practitioners, like myself, believe that one such aptitude is the innate ability to heal itself, restore balance and overcome illness.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” Hippocrates.
Based upon the concept that food is the original ancient medicine, today’s nutritional medicine practitioners have the benefit of science to help understand and explain how nutrients and food components are used within the body. The balance of these nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats, plus a gut full of helpful bacteria is key to the optimal functioning of all biochemical pathways and processes within our bodies. Nutritional medicine practitioners seek to remove barriers to this innate ability to heal. These barriers may be partly genetic; however, dietary and environmental factors are often tangled up as well.
Who is a nutritional medicine practitioner?
Nutritional medicine is an arm of naturopathy and is guided by the naturopathic principles. Consequently, within Australia, both naturopaths and (naturopathic) nutritionists are usually* qualified and accredited healthcare professionals that utilise Nutritional Medicine. When I was studying, many of my subjects were delivered jointly to the ‘nutritionists’ and the ‘naturopaths’; however, a naturopath also trained in the use of herbal medicines, and, often with homeopathic, flower remedies and iridology as well. Nutritionists, however, will have spent additional study and clinic hours delving into nutritional medicine even more deeply. Both, therefore, consider the whole body, including mind, body and spirit, and seeks to create a balance that is optimal to health as well as disease prevention.
How is a nutritionist different to a dietician?
Both (naturopathic) nutritionists and dieticians use evidence-based approaches to modifying diets to help an individual’s health needs. Both hold a similar vision to improve food choices, health and wellbeing for their clients. However, their philosophies differ. A (naturopathic) nutritionist uses a holistic approach, treating everyone as an individual whereas, in my understanding, dieticians are primarily trained to give evidence-based dietary advice for specific conditions and transform the scientific nutrition information into a tailored diet plan for each client. (Naturopathic) Nutritionists are often found in private practice or working in holistic centres, whereas dieticians generally work in places like hospitals and nursing homes. In Australia, dieticians are recognised by Medicare whereas nutritionists (and naturopaths) are not; however, some private health funds do recognise fully-qualified and accredited nutritionists. However, as you can imagine, these differences may not be as distinct as this due to individual practitioners style and approach.
What is involved in a nutrition consultation?
Initial nutrition consultations are lengthy and are primarily an information-gathering session. A nutritionist will ask questions about:
- Presenting signs & symptoms
- Current & past health conditions
- Diet/food choices
- Physical condition
- Daily exercise
- Alcohol, tobacco, drug consumption
- Sleep patterns
- Family health history
- Exposure to toxins
Physical examinations and diagnostic/screening testing (utilising blood, urine, saliva, or hair samples) may also be used, if necessary.
The nutritionist will then create a detailed, individualised plan specific to your health needs and lifestyle. The plan may involve:
- Dietary Advice e.g. exclusions of certain foods, inclusions of certain foods, food swaps, quantity and timing of meals
- Individualised Meal Plans
- Supplement Recommendations e.g. vitamin, mineral, amino acids, probiotics and other nutrients
- Exercise Suggestions
- Lifestyle Changes e.g. removal of certain chemicals from living environment
- Education and Counselling
Sometimes, it may be necessary to refer to other healthcare professionals for additional advice or a shared care type plan.
I am a (naturopathic) nutritionist and a mum of three children. I hold an Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine from the Australian College of Natural Therapies and am accredited with the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. I am registered with a number of private health funds. I regularly attend industry seminars and love to learn more and more about nutrition and family health. Three years ago, I started my own private clinic and am passionate about helping families optimise their health one bite at a time. I am excited to be a part of the MamaBase team where I look forward to supporting you and your family.
Nutritionist at Mama Base Illawarra
*please note that this may not always be the case and so it is worth double-checking qualifications, experience and accreditation. Not all ‘nutritionists’ are trained in this approach. In Australia, nutritionists should hold a minimum qualification of an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine (if graduated pre-2018) to be accredited by an industry association like the Australian Natural Medicine Society. Since 2018, all nutritionists must hold a Bachelor degree qualification. For a nutritionist to be recognised by a private health fund (be aware that not all private health funds cover naturopathic nutrition) they must meet certain requirements including being accredited by an association.