Nutrition: It's NOT all about diet!
Updated: Jan 28
Some people living with chronic illness avoid seeing a nutritional medicine practitioner because they are afraid they will simply be put on a restrictive diet that they can't sustain. While the old adage 'food is medicine' is certainly true, unfortunately in our modern messed up world, food is often not the only medicine that is needed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to expound the virtues of a whole food, plant rich, unprocessed diet. In my personal and professional experience simple changes to diet can provoke the most profound changes in health outcomes. However, let's get real, simply eating more of the nutrients you need to be healthy, is not going to cure you of anything. This is because it's not just your poor diet that got you into trouble in the first place. In fact, I see many people who have become very sick after eating a healthy diet all their lives. No, sickness and disease is a result of three key factors: your genes, your diet, and your environment.
1. Nutritional Medicine and genes.
Nutrigenomics is the study of the interaction between our genes and and our nutritional biochemistry. Some people are born with an inability to effectively metabolise certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin D, folate, B12, Zinc, glutathione and coQ10. Over time, such genetically driven deficiencies can lead to disease states associated with them. For example, there is now a great deal of evidence to suggest that poor vitamin D status, directly influenced by genetics, is a precursor to autoimmune disease. A good nutritionist will help you identify areas of genetic weakness underpinning your particular health challenges. It is possible to then increase appropriate levels of these nutrients using bio-identical substances that support your unique biochemistry.
2. Nutritional Medicine and your environment
What are the environmental factors that contribute to disease? Many of them are things that are outside our control: heavy metal exposure, pathogenic infections, chemical toxins, stress! Over time a high level of pressure on the body from these sources can be catastrophic. Nutritional Medicine involves using functional testing to determine the root causes of illness and malaise and can identify the impact of these various factors. Functional tests can include: looking at how hormones are being metabolised and excreted, assessing digestive function and integrity, identifying sources of immunological inflammation etc. Because nutritional medicine is a holistic modality, your practitioner will also look at lifestyle factors such as sleep quality, exercise, and water intake that may be influencing your general health.
Of course, diet is also analysed in nutritional medicine to assess the impact it is having on health, but any dietary changes are carefully negotiated in light of their practical and social impact. Two people with the same condition may benefit from a similar diet, but for one of them, the changes maybe impossible due to family and work commitments, cultural expectations etc. In this case, a modified approach is needed to create a do-able food plan.
So, don't be scared!! A visit to a nutritionist doesn't mean you're going to be eating miserably the rest of your life, but it could change your life and help you feel on top of the world again!