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How Food Heals: Understanding Nutritional Therapy

Posted By Trevor McDonald, Saturday, June 16, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018

Food is the original healer. Nutritional therapy uses evidence to optimize a person’s health and well-being by designing customized nutritional plans—not “diets.” The goals are the inclusion of wholesome, organic, unprocessed foods in a person’s diet. There’s also an element of therapeutic effects in certain foods that can help heal some health conditions. Nutritional therapy is a holistic approach to health, treating the entire body while pinpointing the root of health issues. It does not only treat symptoms.

Nutritional TherapyNutritional therapy works on the idea that every person is different, as is their heritage, DNA, and history. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to nutritional therapy, particularly since it’s best to eat locally and regionally (as an overarching rule), which makes good nutrition vastly different around the globe. Nutritional therapy has been prescribed and proven effective in treating a number of ailments, and can help recovering addicts, too.

Getting Started

The first step when pursuing this path to wellness is to see a qualified nutritional therapist. This may or may not be covered under different insurance policies, but nutritional therapists will work with clients to create payment plans if necessary. Most nutritional therapists have a three-year diploma and have a background in pathology, biochemistry, physiology, and have completed a set amount of supervised clinical practice hours. They may work in private practice or in a group setting.

Your nutritional therapist well help devise a lifestyle plan that's personalized just for you based on health goals and needs. This can include dietary recommendations, recipes, and ideas on how to better infuse positive changes into your current lifestyle. You don't need to have a specific complaint, or a number of complaints, to benefit from a nutritional therapist. You also don't need to be under- or over-weight. Anybody of any age can benefit from better nutrition. At the heart of nutrition therapy is figuring out which foods help a person feel their best.

Common Complaints

Although nutritional therapy is for everyone, there are a few common issues that are commonly addressed with this type of approach. One of the most popular is digestive problems, including IBS, reflux, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, and food intolerances. Naturally, nutritional therapy is a great match for addressing weight issues as well as blood sugar imbalances, sugar addiction, and type-2 diabetes. Many people with cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, seek help with nutritional therapy. From mental health (fatigue or anxiety) to skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, you’ll be surprised by just how much nutrition plays into these issues. It can even help with some autoimmune conditions like lupus, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis—particularly if these conditions aren’t responding well to conventional drugs or therapies.

medical historyDuring your first consultation, you’ll go through an intensive medical history and pinpoint your current health. Health symptoms may be discussed, and together you’ll identify needs and goals with the nutritional therapist. All recommendations will center around natural, whole foods that are not processed. This can be challenging for some clients, which is why meal planning is also included. Even in the first consultation, clients are often recommended to remove or reduce certain foods from their diet (at least for a short time) to figure out if they are tied to an issue. In the meantime, alternatives will be recommended that will keep nutritional needs in check.

In some cases, supplements may also be prescribed. It’s nearly impossible to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone while maintaining a reasonable caloric intake and actually enjoying your meals. Key probiotics, minerals, and vitamins make a big difference in a person’s overall health.

For those in addiction recovery, a poor diet is very common. Many dangerous substances interrupt the physiological functioning of the body and don't allow the body to process nourishment correctly. A lowered appetite while using is common, and getting the drug or alcohol (instead of proper nutrition) becomes top priority. Some addicts also suffer from a damaged liver, pancreas, stomach lining, and intestines, which all get in the way of absorbing nutrients. Nutritional therapy can help those who are in the recovery process re-learn how to prioritize their health through proper nutrition.


Trevor McDonaldTrevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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