Nutritional therapy seeks to prevent and treat disease through diet and nutritional supplements.
What can Nutritional Therapy Treat?
Nutritional therapy can be used to assist treatment of a wide range of ailments including:
- digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome
- high blood pressure
- menstrual problems
- circulatory disorders
- general health and wellbeing
The links between nutrition and health are widely acknowledged. Food contains many of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that we need to stay alive and healthy. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients Ė or too much of one nutrient and too little of another Ė can lead to ill health.
Nutritional therapy works to detoxify the body, to correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies, to improve digestion, and to foster a positive attitude towards self-care.
Practitioners, who may be medically qualified, focus on the causes of illness rather than the symptoms. They study the needs of each individual patient and, through a programme of balanced diet and nutrition, encourage the patientís own powerful healing systems to correct disorders.
Factors that prevent health include: nutritional deficiencies; allergies or intolerances to food; and problems with the elimination of waste products, leading to an accumulation of toxins in the body. Despite a healthy diet, a patientís body can still lack essential nutrients. This may be because an accumulation of toxins is preventing the proper functioning of the digestive system, disrupting gut flora and preventing the efficient assimilation of nutrients from food into the body.
Consultation and treatment
Nutritional requirements vary according to age, health conditions and acitivity levels. A nutritional therapist will help you to understand your body and how it works.
Before beginning treatment, the practitioner will ask you about your current diet, medical history and symptoms. He or she may also examine your general condition and employ a series of standard tests to assess physical symptoms.
Using the test results and taking into accounts factors such as age and sex, the practitioner will then develop a dietary regime tailored to your needs. If you have a nutritional deficiency, he or she will probably supplement the diet with herbal remdies and vitamins or minerals. During following consultations, the practitioner may modify the diet as required.
Many nutritional therapists will take into account the relationships, lifestyle and degrees of stress in their patientís lives during treatment and they may suggest more exercise, other lifestyle changes or further treatment with another form of complementary therapy.
The number of consultations required will depend on the patientís progress.
Costs of treatment can range from £25 to £65 an hour.
Self-help is fundamental to nutritional therapy as commitment is needed on the patientís part to follow dietary and lifestyle recommendations. Recording dietary intake and any resulting effects may be an important part of therapy. There are many excellent books on the subject for those who wish to improve their health through diet.
How to find a practitioner
The British Association of Nutritional Therapists, the British Society for Allergy, Environmental and Nutritional Medicine and The Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy can supply you with lists of practitioners. The Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Medicine maintains a register of practitioners who are not medical doctors.
The Institute of Optimum Nutrition runs a three-year, part-time diploma course. Graduates of the course can use the initials DipION after their names.
Nutritional therapy often works well alongside conventional medicine but consult your doctor before beginning a treatment, particularly if you are suffering from a serious medical condition.
Do not take high doses of vitamins or minerals without consulting your doctor or a professional nutritionist. Excessive doses of some supplements may be toxic.
Do not follow a strict diet for long periods of time without the supervision of your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.