Nutritional therapy/ medicine developed in the twentieth century as a way of treating disease and optimising health, using nutrition and changes in lifestyle. It involves individual prescriptions for diet and lifestyle, in order to alleviate or prevent ailments and to promote optimal health. These recommendations may include dietary modifications, including the use of exclusion diets, and guidance on methods to support digestion and absorption of nutrients. They may also include the avoidance of ingestion or inhalation of toxins or allergens, detoxification, procedures to promote gastrointestinal health and the appropriate use of supplementary nutrients.
Treatment is patient-centred, i.e. based on a recognition of the individual?s biochemical uniqueness (genetic/epigenetic) and their environment. It considers the web-like connections of physiological factors. Health is seen as vitality, and not just the absence of disease. It incorporates a consideration of nutritional, immunological, endocrine and gastro-intestinal imbalances, inflammatory responses, impaired detoxification and oxidative stress. It is based upon molecular medicine, nutritional biochemistry, preventive medicine and neuroscience.
Practitioners in the UK are regulated by the General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies (GRCCT)
Within Europe the European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians (EFAD) has adopted, in principle, the International Congress of Dietetic Associations (ICDA) definition of the role of the dietitian;
A dietitian is a person with a qualification in Nutrition & Dietetics recognized by national authority(s). The dietitian applies the science of nutrition to the feeding and education of groups of people and individuals in health and disease.
The scope of dietetic practice is such that dietitians may work in a variety of settings and have a variety of work functions.
Within Europe dietitians find themselves practising in three main areas. These may be quite distinctive, such as the administrative dietitian in Sweden or more generic such as in the United Kingdom . The European Dietetic Benchmark Statement indicates the three areas of specialization, recognized by EFAD, which can occur and are within the practice of dietetics in Europe . These are:
Administrative Dietitian: a dietitian who focuses and works primarily within food service management with responsibility for providing nutritionally adequate, quality food to individuals or groups in health and disease in an institution or a community setting.
Clinical Dietitian: a dietitian who has responsibility for planning, education, supervision and evaluation of a clinically devised eating plan to restore the client/patient to functional nutritional health. Clinical dietitians can work in primary care as well as in institutions.
Public Health or Community Dietitian: a dietitian directly involved in health promotion and policy formulation that leads to the promotion food choice amongst individuals and groups to improve or maintain their nutritional health and minimizes risk from nutritionally derived illness.
Dietitians work principally in the National Health Service and in the UK , are regulated by the Health Professions Council .
Nutrition Advisor (Nutrition Counsellor or Dietary Coach)
The Nutritional Adviser is trained to provide advice in order that the individual or group may improve their health through appropriate diet and lifestyle. Recommendations of a Nutrition Advisor may include dietary modifications, including the use of exclusion diets, and guidance on methods to support digestion and absorption of nutrients
The level of study required is shorter and less intense than that required for a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.