Using Food as Medicine
Clinical nutrition is an exciting young science that can be applied to prevent, control, and treat the exploding burden of chronic disease. Although it is still commonly believed by some that nutrition is simply a source of energy to prevent malnutrition, and micronutrients to prevent deficiency diseases, much research reveals that this is certainly not the case.
Macronutrients (ie. carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and other non-nutritive substances in food are integral to understanding the causes, prevention, and treatment of disease. Nutrients (along with oxygen) are the key fundamental substrate for life and influence every biologic process and every core biochemical imbalance. Therefore, nutrition can be involved in both the creation and amelioration of disease so understanding the intersection of diet and disease and the role of nutrition is fundamental for optimal health.
The duality of nutritional influences on health is striking. On the one hand, our current diet is the principal agent of chronic degenerative disease in our time. On the other hand, when the current science of clinical nutrition is applied artfully, it has the ability to prevent, reverse, and even cure many of our chronic diseases.
A one-size fits all approach to nutritional advice has proven to be problematic. Popular interest in nutrition and the vast market for dietary “cure-alls” and “quick fixes” has led to confusing, often contradictory, array of “expert” advise. It is very common for people to read an article in a magazine and be convinced of the wonderful benefits of a particular supplement. However, is that particular supplement beneficial? For a Naturopathic Doctor to apply clinical nutrition in a practical manner to develop a comprehensive treatment protocol, various factors are taken into account:
- Comprehensive medical history
- Nutritional requirements across the genetic and chronological spectrum
- Food preferences
- Complex psychological aspects of food
- Blood, urine, and body composition tests
- Physical exam
Therefore, Naturopathic Doctors assess a person’s nutritional needs to achieve normal (or optimal) physiological function. Understanding the role of nutrition in creating and correcting core imbalances is essential for improving health.