What is Nutritional Medicine?
"Nutritional Medicine is based on the principle that nutrients, including essential micronutrients, are required for the proper functioning of all the biochemical processes on which our bodies depend. Therefore, when treating symptoms or diseases, we look for the underlying causes which, although often partly genetic, are usually very much tied up with nutritional and environmental factors" Meldrum J M (1993) Nutritional Health 9 (2) 135-50
A Functional Medicine Approach
Most Nutritional Therapists work according to the principles of Functional Medicine, which aims to shift the focus of care away from the presenting symptoms, and towards the root causes that would account for such symptoms. It is a patient-centred approach that involves looking at the bigger picture of a patient's health, and which aspects of their diet, lifestyle and environment may be contributing to their health problems.
Identifying and addressing the root cause of a problem, is often an effective way of achieving long-term change. This diagram gives a good pictorial representation of the principles of Functional Medicine. Treating only the presenting symptoms (the 'fruit') often fails to address the underlying reasons that have caused them to develop in the first place (the 'roots'). Failure to deal with the roots of the problem can mean that symptoms may continue to reoccur and over time, new symptoms may develop.
It is not only Registered Nutritional Therapists that have recognised the benefits of this approach. There are also an increasing number of doctors and other health practitioners who have adopted this method of healthcare. A Functional Medicine Practitioner will always critically evaluate the current research in nutrition and apply it to their clinical practice in order to achieve long-term improvements in health for their patients. For more information on the theory behind the Functional Medicine Approach, visit the Institute for Functional Medicine.
Will the advice from a Nutritional Therapist conflict with my medical care?
No. A Registered Nutritional Therapist will work alongside your doctor to provide you with all the information you need to optimise your health through effective diet and lifestyle management, so that you can gain the maximum benefit from your medical care. Nutritional Therapy does not claim to cure conditions, nor aim to provide you with an alternative to your medical care, but it will provide you with the necessary tools to optimise your health within the constraints of your diagnosis. Although there are many occasions where effective dietary and lifestyle changes can improve health conditions such that medications may no longer be necessary, you will never be advised to stop taking your prescribed medication.