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Nutrition Therapy

Nutrition Therapy is all about what we put in our bodies and how it can affect our health and state of mind.

 

An Introduction to Nutrition Therapy

You are what you eat. The proverbial quote that implies what we put in our bodies has a direct effect on our health and state of mind. Eating well doesn’t just affect our weight, skin or gut. It is critical for our cellular health and imperative for reducing the risk of noncommunicable diseases.

For the ordinary person, information on nutrition and dietary advice is a minefield. It can be especially challenging if you have a pre-existing condition or specific allergies. You may find consulting a nutritional expert is the starting step you need to feel well again.

 

What is Nutrition Therapy?

Nutrition Therapy considers your general health and specific conditions in relation to your diet and eating habits. The benefits can be wide-ranging. For example, a nutritionist can support you in weight management, managing an allergy or aiding a pregnancy.

Depending on your specific goals, a nutritionist can use a combination of foods, supplements and dietary planning. They may also recommend fasting, tips for food preparation and lifestyle changes to manage existing conditions.

Working with either a nutritionist, dietitian or nutritional therapist, they will advise you on which foods, supplements and diets you should follow to support a healthy lifestyle. They take a holistic approach by factoring in your individual needs and lifestyle habits to create a plan that is tailored to your goals and hold you accountable for making change.

How can Nutrition Therapy benefit you?

How can Nutrition Therapy benefit you?

A balanced diet can help address many underlying health issues. Although it is important to remember that there is no one nutrient or ‘superfood’ that can cure all health conditions or make us healthy. It is about our overall dietary pattern and lifestyle changes over a sustained period.

That being said, Nutrition Therapy can help the body to function at its best. A nutritional therapist can guide you in supplying the body with the correct nutrients, in the right levels and portions, so you can move towards optimal physical, mental and emotional health.

People may choose to see a nutritional therapist when they are looking for nutrition-related guidance or supplements to support with the following topics:

  • Overall diet and nutrition advice
  • Energy, vitality and longevity
  • Improving muscle strength
  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • Having good gut health
  • General body detoxification
  • Improving vision
  • Balancing hormones
  • Nutrition for pregnancy
  • Food intolerance*

* Food intolerances – A food allergy is an attack on the person’s immune system whereas a food intolerance involves the digestive system. However, the two can easily be confused, making it difficult to prevent reactions and self-manage if not diagnosed correctly.

Always consult your GP if you think you have a food allergy as it can lead to a more serious reaction called anaphylaxis.

Food intolerance is more common, and your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist. A nutritionist can put you on an elimination diet to figure out the root cause and help you manage it long-term.

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Further Reading / Nutrition studies

Nutrition alone is not a cure. Should you have a specific illness or disease, we recommend discussing with your doctor whether nutrition could help with managing the symptoms or illness. They may advise you to seek a specialist dietitian or nutritional therapist to assist you with a diet plan for your condition if this is relevant.

Below you will find further reading on research into nutrition and health.

 

Weight Control

A dietitian or nutritional therapist could assist you with a diet plan for managing weight, as your food intake will have a role in weight control. For example, increased consumption of fruits and non-starchy vegetables is inversely associated with weight change.

Another study also shows that increasing fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy may help achieve weight loss and maintenance. An article in the Journal of Obesity shows that poor compliance to healthy dietary and behavioural lifestyle practices is the main cause for weight regain.

 

Digestive concerns and IBS

A dietitian or nutritional therapist could also advise on foods suitable for improving gut health. A study in 2020 concluded that dietary intake of prebiotics seems to positively affect the intestinal microbiota not only promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria but also producing metabolites that are potentially protective of gut functionality.

A study in 2019 concluded that dietary interventions to improve IBS symptoms appear to be a reasonable treatment approach. A prospective study of dietary fibre suggests that the insoluble component of fibre was significantly associated with a decreased risk of diverticular disease, a disease of the colon.

 

Inflammation

Inflammation is a part of your body’s normal response to infection or injury. But sometimes, inflammation is low-grade, spread throughout the body, and chronic. This article by the Mayo Clinic provides guidance on how to use food to help your body fight inflammation.

A study in 2020 on intestinal permeability, inflammation and the role of nutrients show the important roles of nutrients in the homeostasis of the mucosal barrier and maintenance of the normal physiology of the intestine.

 

Skin conditions

In an article in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the role of dietary intervention in skin disease was assessed. They found that:

  • A 10-week low glycaemic load diet resulted in improvement of acne
  • Certain dietary factors have significant anti-carcinogenesis properties for skin, particularly with regard to ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced carcinogenesis
  • Ingestion of sugar can accelerate signs of ageing including sagging of skin and loss of elasticity
  • Dietary intervention should be recommended to patients with psoriasis

 

Psychological Wellbeing

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting what we eat can have a significant impact on our mood and may help in the management of some mood and mental health concerns.

 

Sleep 

Your diet choices may have a negative impact on your sleep quality. Research published in the Journal of Circadian Rhythms has shown a breakfast high in tryptophan (think chicken, eggs, cheese, milk and nuts) can improve melatonin levels in the body, leading to a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, alcohol or stimulants such as caffeine can disrupt REM sleep – the deepest part of your sleep cycle which can affect memory and learning.

 

Anxiety and depressive symptoms

In a systematic review of 20 scientific articles, the results showed that a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, fibre, fish, whole grains, legumes and reducing added sugar and processed foods may have a significant effect on preventing and treating depressive symptoms. The recommended support and assistance with changing people’s dietary habits as part of conventional treatment.

 

Common cold

We’re well-acquainted with traditional remedies such as taking Vitamin C to prevent colds or making homemade chicken soup for when we’re ill. But how much of this is backed up by evidence?  Well, regular supplementation trials have shown that vitamin C reduces the duration of colds, and the synergetic properties of chicken soup (hot broth, electrolytes, fluids, minerals and protein) may provide antioxidants and help decrease the symptoms of inflammation in colds.

Furthermore, this study found taking garlic supplements may help enhance your immune system and decrease the severity of cold symptoms.

Choosing the right Nutrition Therapist for you

Choosing the right Nutrition Therapist for you

Because nutrition affects all systems within the body, some dietitians and nutritionists choose to specialise in a particular area. You may be seeking overall guidance and advice, or you may have a specialist topic you wish to address.

You should always seek guidance from your GP for the topics listed below. However, the GP may suggest you see a specialist dietitian and nutritionist, as a support to the treatment they recommend.

  • Weight management
  • IBS, IBD, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, ulcers, and gut infections
  • Skin health: eczema, psoriasis, acne.
  • Sexual Health including fertility, pregnancy, PMS and menopause
  • Mental health: including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders such as anorexia

 

A nutritionist may also specialise in the following:

  • Energy and metabolism
  • Vegetarian and plant-based diets
  • Food intolerance
  • Food fears
  • Gut health

Whether generalist or specialist, you should always choose a practitioner who has completed their training, such as through the Nutritional Therapy Association or the Health Sciences Academy.

What to expect in your first Nutrition Therapy session

What to expect in your first Nutrition Therapy session

Before your first appointment or consultation, you may need to complete a comprehensive health questionnaire and food diary. Your therapist will then gather more information from you about your health history, current health issues and food habits by asking you questions in your initial appointment.

They can explain which body systems they feel are out of balance and may suggest some health tests to uncover more specific imbalances, infections or nutrient deficiencies.

You will then receive a list of diet and lifestyle recommendations to achieve over the next month and a list of nutritional or herbal supplements to help support your journey back to better health.

Did you know that Holistify is a new way to discover & book holistic therapies?

We’re launching soon!

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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