What is Nutritional Therapy?
Nutritional Therapy is lifestyle medicine based on scientific research that helps you to achieve your best possible health. A nutritional therapist evaluates your diet, health status, and lifestyle. Many factors affect your health. These include nutrient intake, gut health, work and living environment, stress and physical activity. We also consider exposure to infections and environmental chemicals. Managing these areas better is an investment for life.
We encourage you to consume high-quality fresh foods to enjoy the best chance of good, long-term health. Many of today’s health problems are complex diseases that develop due to a combination of genes, environmental factors, and your gut microbiome. This includes:
- Chronic infections
- Chronic pain
- Thyroid problems
- Fertility problems
- Gut problems
- Skin problems
- Poor mental health.
Testing specific health markers and using food and supplements to ensure good nutrient status gives you the best chance of maintaining good health. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help to fight off colds and flu, maintain healthy immune, liver, and kidney function, nourish gut flora, and support functions like memory, intellect, concentration, digestion, and physical performance.
Nutritional therapy is not a replacement for medical advice, and Nordic Wellth nutritional therapists always seek to work with your doctor where possible and necessary. Anyone with signs, symptoms, or test results considered ‘red flags’ for serious illness will be told to visit a primary care doctor.
How Nutrition Affects Health
In the intricate web of factors that influence human health, nutrition stands as one of the most foundational pillars. Our food provides the building blocks for our body's growth, maintenance, and functionality. Nutrition plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimal health and preventing chronic diseases.
Nutrients and Their Impact
Our bodies require a diverse array of nutrients to function effectively. These nutrients are classified into macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, while micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals. Each category of nutrients contributes uniquely to maintaining health.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy. They are broken down into glucose, which fuels our cells, particularly the brain. Choosing complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provides sustained energy and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates, often found in sugary snacks and beverages, can lead to rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes, increasing the risk of metabolic issues.
Proteins: Proteins are essential for growth, tissue repair, and immune function. They also serve as enzymes and hormones, orchestrating numerous bodily processes. A diet rich in lean protein sources like poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts supports muscle mass, immune response, and overall body function.
Fats: Dietary fats are crucial for energy storage, cell membrane integrity, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, offer cardiovascular benefits and contribute to brain health. Saturated and trans fats, commonly present in fried foods and processed snacks, can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients that play diverse roles in bodily functions. For instance, vitamin C supports the immune system, vitamin D aids in calcium absorption for bone health, and iron is vital for oxygen transport in the blood. Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins helps ensure adequate intake of these micronutrients.
Diet and Disease Prevention
The adage "you are what you eat" resonates strongly when considering the impact of nutrition on disease prevention. A balanced and nutrient-rich diet is a powerful tool in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Cardiovascular Health: A diet low in saturated and trans fats and high in unsaturated fats, fibre, and antioxidants can promote cardiovascular health. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fatty fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Diabetes Management: Nutrition plays a central role in diabetes prevention and management. Foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains and legumes, help regulate blood sugar levels. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Cancer Risk Reduction: While no diet can guarantee immunity to cancer, certain dietary choices can lower the risk. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and inflammation, factors linked to cancer development. Furthermore, some studies suggest that consuming cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower might have protective effects against certain types of cancer.
Bone Health: Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is crucial for bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis. Dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods are excellent sources of these nutrients.
The Modern Diet and Health Challenges
In recent decades, there has been a noticeable shift in dietary patterns, with a greater reliance on processed foods, excessive added sugars, and unhealthy fats. This shift has led to a surge in diet-related health challenges.
Obesity: The modern diet's high-calorie density, combined with sedentary lifestyles, has contributed to a global obesity epidemic. Processed foods often contain excessive amounts of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates, leading to overconsumption of calories and subsequent weight gain.
Metabolic Syndrome: Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. These factors collectively increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Poor dietary choices, such as a diet high in processed foods and sugary beverages, are significant contributors to metabolic syndrome.
Gut Health and Microbiota: Emerging research highlights the importance of gut health and its connection to overall well-being. A diet rich in fibre from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains nourishes the gut microbiota, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria that contribute to digestion and immune function. On the other hand, diets high in processed foods and low in fibre can negatively impact gut health and increase the risk of gastrointestinal issues.
The Role of Informed Dietary Choices
Given the profound influence of nutrition on health, making informed dietary choices is crucial for overall well-being. Here are some strategies for cultivating a health-supportive diet:
Emphasize Whole Foods: Prioritize whole, minimally processed foods over highly processed options. Whole foods are rich in nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants that support health.
Practice Portion Control: Even healthy foods can contribute to weight gain if consumed excessively. Pay attention to portion sizes to maintain a healthy calorie balance.
Diversify Your Diet: Eating many different foods ensures a broader spectrum of nutrients. Food provides many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health.
Limit Added Sugars and Unhealthy Fats: Minimize the consumption of sugary snacks, sugary beverages, and foods high in saturated and trans fats. Opt for sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and fatty fish.
Stay Hydrated: Water is essential for digestion, circulation, temperature regulation, and more. Aim to drink adequate water throughout the day.
Moderation is Key: While indulging occasionally is acceptable, moderation is crucial. Balance less nutritious choices with nutrient-dense foods in your overall diet.
Customize Your Diet: Dietary needs vary based on age, gender, activity level, and health status. Consult a registered dietitian or healthcare professional to tailor your diet to your needs.
Nutrition plays a central role in human health. Food gives us the energy and nutrients that impact our disease risk, immune systems, weight, strength and body composition. A diet rich in essential nutrients supports bodily functions, promotes disease prevention, and improves overall well-being. Conversely, poor dietary choices have been linked to a host of chronic diseases and health challenges.
As we navigate a world with many food choices, the significance of making informed dietary decisions becomes evident. A diet that prioritizes whole, nutrient-dense foods, limits harmful components and promotes a diverse array of nutrients offers a powerful strategy for optimizing health. Contact us today to book an appointment.