Nutritional therapy is a well-researched field of healthcare that uses nutrition to promote optimal health and to prevent and manage a wide range of health issues, from specific medical conditions to stress, low energy and weight management. Seeing a nutritional therapist can enable people who are interested in taking responsibility for their health to take positive action by making better dietary and lifestyle choices.
Nutritional therapy applies the results of scientific clinical trials, published in respected, peer-reviewed journals in assessing which foods or nutritional supplements would most benefit people with different health conditions. For instance, much research has been done on the benefits of the mineral chromium at managing blood sugars, and the implication of a lack of vitamin D and essential fatty acids in the incidence of multiple sclerosis.
A nutritional therapist is a holistic practitioner, and aims to identify the cause of a patient’s health concerns. For example, you may present with a skin condition and a nutritional therapist may consider your gut health, your stress levels, your ability to detoxify and/or the possibility of any allergies. The goal is to treat the disease or condition and not only the symptoms.
Prior to a consultation you fill out a questionnaire detailing your health history, your dietary habits and lifestyle and forward this to your therapist before meeting (if possible, as this ensures you get the most out of the consultation) This includes a 3-day food diary. In a consultation you go through the questionnaire with your therapist, who explains how your current diet could be impacting your health and devises a tailored programme for you, taking into account your individual symptoms and food preferences, your lifestyle and where you usually food shop. It is important that you feel your dietary programme is achievable and not a list of ingredients you never use and would never be able to find the time to buy, nor cook. Recipes and specific menu planning are also given when required.
The priority is to get your diet right for you, but where appropriate, nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, digestive supports or essential fats may be recommended as these can have significant therapeutic results.
Functional testing may also be advised at times in order to devise the most accurate and beneficial protocol for you. Examples of tests used are stool analysis, hair mineral analysis, stress hormone index and female hormone testing.