The Role of Nutrition
The role of Naturopathic Nutrition or Nutritional Therapy is to promote health and restore wellbeing through appropriate nourishment. Nutritional Therapy, is one of the modalities of Naturopathic Medicine and is focused on the promotion of optimal health, vitality and wellbeing, through dietary prescriptions and interventions and occasionally nutritional supplements/nutraceuticals, such as vitamins, minerals and other orthomolecular substances and dietary herbs.
The role of nutrition in health restoration is invaluable. It is not by chance that Hippocrates has underlined its importance thousands of years ago:
1. food as the primary medicine
2. then use herbs
3. then use intervention
Unfortunately, orthodox medicine has lost its roots and jumps directly to 3. Rarely do physicians subscribe to the importance of prevention of disease. GPs do not generally give advice on nutrition and yet scientific research has shown that food directly influences brain function, mood and energy, but also that appetite and eating habits can be significantly affected by specific conditions, feelings and energy levels. Throughout our entire life cycle, from preconception to senior years, food choices you make on a day to day basis can have a direct impact on your health, by increasing your susceptibility to disease, potentially reducing physical and mental development, and immunity.
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness” -Edward Stanley
The phrase “you are what you eat” – recently changed to “you are what you absorb” given the complexity of healthy digestion and absorption – should not be overlooked. Food is a source of nourishment. Our bodies use food to provide our cells with essential nutrients and fuel for energy, growth and repair. The body conducts metabolic processes whilst awake or asleep; protein, fats, fibre, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins are absorbed throughout our digestive system supply-ing nutrients that are essential. The right food choices aid the transportation of vital nutrients into the blood and cells ready for the demands we put our body through. The food we eat forms the basic building blocks of the body, but most of us have lost sight of the fact that food is fuel and that the purpose of eating is to provide the body with the tools it needs for energy. Absorption of the nutrients from a healthy/ varied eating regime gives you the best opportunity to maximise wellbeing.
In an environment plagued by exogenous toxins, increased oxidative stress and inflammation, poor nutrient status and high physical and emotional stress, further modifications, mutations and immune suppression, a nutrient-dense diet is even of more need.
Nutrition In The 21st Century
In the Western world, chronic disease can be characterised as “starvation in a sea of plenty”. There is lots of food present, but there is not a lot of it going to feed the cells and fuel the metabolic processes that keep us functioning on a daily basis. There is usually a very low level of micronutrients in the diet, so the cells are not truly getting what they need. A major part of healing the body will be feeding it what it needs.
Instead, we eat for a variety of different reasons, none of which usually relate to the idea of providing our bodies with quality fuel. More often we will reach for foods that based on convenience, even though we know that they not good for us. When we are busy or stressed, one of the first things that get affected is our eating habits. Stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, busy lifestyles, hormonal imbalances and ignorance can all affect our dietary choices. Overconsumption of processed foods ‘hijacks’ our sense of taste and smell, what leads to a vicious cycle of reaching for more processed foods.
Eating unconsciously or in a hurry, such as ‘on the go’, ‘al desko’, when driving or watching TV, minimises the health benefits of nutrition, by not allowing time to chew and digest food properly, while can predispose to gastrointestinal and other disturbances, indigestion, bloating and weight gain to name a few.
Why Do We Need More Nutrients Than Our Ancestors?
The right type and level of nutrients cannot always be obtained from food, as was possible some years ago, due to modern farming methods and soil depletion, excessive use of fertilisers and processing food. In addition, in some instances our bodies have increased need for a certain nutrient, due to suboptimal digestion and absorption, ‘blocked’ biochemical pathways, as well as lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, over-training, sun exposure, stress, medications. In these cases it may be necessary to get your daily levels through a dietary supplement. Functional testing is sometimes necessary to identify specific nutrient and antioxidant requirements, toxic chemical excesses or metabolic abnormalities.
Nutrition and Chronic Illness
Today more than 90% of all chronic illness is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.
Through nutrition the vast majority of health problems can be alleviated or in many cases eliminated altogether. Improved nutrition and simple lifestyle changes have been repeatedly shown, in scientific research, to support the health of all the important functions of your body. When you follow a healthier lifestyle you naturally become healthier and we can help you through these improvements.
‘’When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use, when diet is correct medicine is of no need” – Ayuverdic proverb
The Basics of a Natural Diet
• We should consume foods in as natural, whole and unadulterated a form as possible.
• The more we process, refine or alter the food from its natural state, the more we compromise
its inherent vitality, wholeness and nutritional value.
• Food additives and preservatives should also be greatly reduced or eliminated as they diminish
the vital energy of our foods and reduce energetic properties.
These ‘rules’ are important to understand and be followed by anyone interested in restoring their health, improving energy levels and stamina, preventing illness and promoting longevity. In addition to that, we help you in identifying what are the right foods for you to include in your diet and enjoy freely and what should be eliminated or avoided, and for how long.
We do not believe in ‘one diet fits all’. Nutritional protocols are tailored to each individual’s circumstances, by determining the unique metabolic balance or nutritional type of each individual.
Proper nutrition in not based on strict, faddy diets, nor in the use of lots of supplements, but aims to help the body obtain the nutrients it needs to work properly in the world we live in; a busy, demanding and at times, stressful place and in doing so, helps in the management of stress and overcome barriers to health and wellbeing.