Nutritional Medicine seems to be quite a misunderstood profession. The majority of people think my job is to help people achieve their weight goals, but in actual fact, I treat very few weight loss cases. I thought I’d just clarify what we do and why you could see a nutritional medicine practitioner.
First of all, contrary to popular belief, we are not witch doctors. We are not purple haired hippies and we do not sell you crystals to heal your irritable bowel syndrome (nothing against crystals, my apartment is full of them). We do not practise pseudoscience and we are certainly not alternative. We use food as medicine. If food is alternative, then so is human existence.
We are not anti-western medicine and we do not hate doctors. Actually, we encourage our relationships with them. We won’t tell you to stop taking your medication.
Another thing i’ve heard time and time again is that nutritionists are only allowed to treat healthy people and not health complaints. People don’t come to see a nutritionist because they’re well, they come because they need help. I don’t know about you, but I have better things to spend my money on than to pay a practitioner for a conversation about everything i’m doing right.
We are bachelor qualified, evidence based and insured to practise under Australian law. We are providers for numerous Australian private health insurances, including NIB, Medibank Private, AHM, CBHS and more.
We have extensively studied and been examined on anatomy and physiology, disease manifestations, biochemistry, nutritional biochemistry, research and evidence analysis, pathology, clinical diagnosis, drugs and pharmacology.
We have done over 420 hours of clinical practice in order to be granted our degrees.
We are required to complete the OSCE examination (objective structured clinical examination) - a compulsory physical assessment for health science degrees such as medicine, optometry, midwifery, radiography, dentistry and other physician specialties.
We understand science based medicine and practise with evidence based treatments.
We understand how the human body works and treat it as one whole system, not in isolation. For example, if you come to see a nutritionist with anxiety, we do not just treat the central nervous system. We will assess your gut function, your hormonal status, your immune system, your respiratory health, your reproductive system, your cardiovascular health and do a thorough breakdown of your diet.
This is because we have studied in depth the correlation between body systems and how they affect each other. This is because we understand that nothing in the human body comes from nowhere.
This is because we understand that there is a systemic cause for everything and it will be found, if you allow someone the time to find it.
This is because we understand that vitamins and minerals are required for our body to function optimally and when we don't consume them in abundance, we get sick.
The human body isn’t straightforward, therefore consultations and treatments shouldn’t be. Why should a consultation concerning eczema take 10 mins and a topical cortisone prescription, when there are over 20 different factors and potentially five body systems concerning the pathophysiology of eczema.
Nutritional medicine is the most fascinating thing I have ever learnt in my whole life. The human body is amazing. It works synergistically given we provide it the right fuel. When we don’t, and we fall into an inflammatory or nutrient deficit state, disease manifests - and this is the foundation of what we do. We use food as medicine. It is the safest, most traditional and most effective therapy you can do for your body.
There are a lot of people out there who call themselves nutritionists. I’ve heard of some people doing 6 month online courses, TAFE certificates in fitness, online health coaching courses and personal trainers who all issue nutritional treatment plans. Please, for the sake of my industry and for your health, do your research about the practitioner you are paying for advice. Qualified, registered and insured clinical nutritionists, naturopaths and dietitians are who you need to look out for. We are sufficiently trained and allowed to treat your symptoms.
In conclusion, food can have disastrous impacts on any particular body, but it's not even just about food. Your lifestyle, stress, sleep and medical history needs to be considered too. You can do harm treating your symptoms with an incorrect food group, by cutting out a food group, or an incorrect supplement dose, so please know who is giving you nutritional advice.