Nutritional Therapy is for anyone who wants to improve his or her health. You may have a specific health problem or you may want to know how to eat to prevent health problems in the future. You may simply want to lose some weight or have more energy. With the help of a nutritional therapist you have the power to make a very profound change to your health.
How does nutritional therapy work?
Nutritional Therapy is about much more than healthy eating and taking a multivitamin supplement. It is a healthcare system that explores ways of balancing a person’s nutrition in order to achieve optimal wellness. Whilst a nutrient dense, optimally balanced diet is the basis, there are many other factors to consider.
Lack of vitamins, minerals and amino acids can be due to straightforward insufficient intake through the diet. They can also often be the result of poor digestion and absorption. In addition, it is not uncommon for metabolic imbalances to occur, which are individual for the particular person and which cause functionaldeficiencies. These type of deficiencies mean that despite adequate intake of a nutrient, a body function that depends on that nutrient is not working properly, because the body cannot metabolise the nutrient. A good example is folic acid. Around 30 percent of women have a functional folic acid deficiency, with major negative consequences for the brain, immune and hormonal systems.
Hormone, blood sugar and essential fatty acid imbalances are often too subtle to show up in conventional tests but can have a significant effect on health and are easily corrected.
Poor digestion and absorption can lead to deficiencies of vitamins, mineral and other nutrients. Bloating, gas and bowel problems can be the result. Dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria) is often a major factor affecting digestion.
Allergies and intolerances
These may be to foods or to environmental allergens. When allergies or sensitivities are present, they make the absorption of nutrients less efficient. It is a case of which comes first, as poor digestion in the first place, makes food intolerances more likely.
The liver and the bowel are two major organs of detoxification. They ensure that the multitude of toxins that we are exposed to daily, are metabolised and excreted from the body. Nutritional support and gentle herbal cleansing regimes may be suggested to improve liver and bowel function.
Often great results can be obtained without testing. However sometimes this is useful if more information is needed. There is a range of innovative functional medicine tests that help to pinpoint nutritional and biochemical imbalances. These tests may involve urine, blood, saliva or stool. Examples of the most commonly used tests are FACT (food intolerance) Adrenal Stress Index, thyroid hormones, Osteoporosis Risk Assessment, Stool Analysis (digestive function, fungal overgrowth, parasitology and bacteriology), and Metabolic Analysis. These tests, if required, are at additional cost to the consultation.
Some people ask me, “If I follow a healthy diet why do I need to take supplements?” Or “Won’t my multivitamin from the local health food shop be enough?”
It is possible to feel well through diet alone. However, most people who do not feel in 100 percent good health will benefit from some degree of supplementation. In addition to the points mentioned above, there are many individual factors that will dramatically increase your needs for certain vitamins. For example stress, intensive exercise, alcohol consumption, infections, heavy menstruation, diarrhoea or prolonged use of certain medications. Each of these factors means that you use up larger than usual amounts of specific nutrients.
Add to this intensive farming practices and environmental influences which have led to a declining nutrient content in our fruit and vegetables and you get the picture of how our food has changed. If you do not feel completely well, taking a basic multivitamin is unlikely to be sufficient to rebalance your nutrient “bank account”. Neither is making a random selection of supplements based on the latest newspaper or magazine article. A nutritional therapist has the expertise to pinpoint the supplements you need and which will really work, based on your clinical symptoms and/or biochemical tests.