Clinical nutritionists use a holistic approach to healing, taking into consideration the whole person, mind, body and soul. This approach is evidence-informed, meaning research findings and traditional medicine knowledge are combined to inform treatments plans.

Clinical nutritionists recognise that disease is complex and is caused by a combination of factors. As a result, clients are given individualised care in response to their health. They help prevent and treat chronic diseases — such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes 

According to The European Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), Clinical Nutrition is defined as ‘a discipline that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and management of nutritional and metabolic changes related to acute and chronic disease and conditions caused by a lack or excess of energy and nutrients’.

Clinical nutrition and health

Clinical nutrition involves a good understanding of what nutrients are necessary for your body to function and how what you eat affects your health. A clinical nutritionist is concerned with how nutrients in food are processed, stored and discarded by your body, along with how what you eat affects your overall well-being

 Poor diet can be linked to a number of physical ailments, and even mental health problems. An unhealthy diet, for example, can increase the risk of at least 13 types of cancers, cause tooth decay and depression, and has even been found to cause more deaths than smoking. Still, it’s important to note that both hunger and obesity are forms of malnutrition. Eating nourishing foods can ward off illness and improve overall quality of life.

Nutrition assessment

Nutritionists evaluate their clients’ health through nutrition assessment and, in some cases, diagnostic laboratory testing. Based on their findings, they can advise their clients on how they should modify their behavior, develop meal and nutrition plans for their clients, and counsel their clients on their nutritional needs. Nutritionists help prevent or treat health conditions including heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and obesity. They may also work with clients who suffer from disordered eating.

A clinical nutritionists consider food in terms of nutrient value and how those nutrients affect functions of the body. By testing a sample of a patient’s blood or urine, the practitioner can detect any imbalances in the body. A common example of an imbalance is high cholesterol.

A clinical nutritionist focuses on the cause of the imbalance, a doctor is trained to prescribe drugs.

Clinical nutrition and biochemical individuality

A general theory behind the science of clinical nutrition is called biochemical individuality. The theory was first introduced by biochemist Dr. Roger Williams in the 1950s. Biochemical individuality theory claims that because each human body is biochemically unique, each has his or her own specific nutritional needs.

Many common symptoms can arise from nutritional imbalances, such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea. A clinical nutritionist can determine what is causing the imbalance and structure a diet to restore balance and relieve symptoms. They not only look at how food affects the digestive track, but attention is also given to how diet affects the immune system and brain wave function. The theory is that the mind and body are connected and diet affects them both

In many cases, nutritionists work as members of larger patient care teams, collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Madelena Tapliga

MSc Clinical Nutritionist, accredited Nutritionist of UK from Association for Nutrition (AfN) London

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