Nutrition Doesn't Mean Diet.

What do you think of when you hear the word nutrition

You might think of a diet rich in nourishing foods. 
You might think of recipes and healthy cooking techniques. 
You might think of wholesome foods, like fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and hearty grains. 
You might think of fancy health foods, like hemp seeds, goji berries, and maca powder.

However, "nutrition" in the naturopathic world is very different from the scenarios pictured above. I've said many times on the blog that nutrition is my favorite modality, but unfortunately I don't feel like I've ever explained what exactly I mean by nutrition.

The naturopathic nutrition modality has almost nothing to do with diet. Whenever I explain what a naturopathic doctor does, and I mention that we treat using nutrition (one tool amongst our massive toolbox), people think "Oh, you just tell your patients to lay off the fries and eat more salad, gotcha".  While naturopathic doctors most definitely do do dietary counseling, that aspect of our job fits better in the "lifestyle counseling" modality.

When I say that NDs use nutrition, I want you know that this entails much, much more than simply telling patients to skip the fries...

Nutrition involves treating patients with high dose vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and micronutrients, etc, to prevent, treat, or cure disease/illness. Nutrition is one the most allopathic (i.e. mainstream medicine) thing that naturopathic doctors use. It's actually quite pharmaceutical (e.g. take this vitamin B5 pill, three times a day, with meals). However, the content of these medicines/supplements are natural substances (non-synthetic), that naturally already exist in the body, and have very few (if any) side-effects.

My understanding of Nutrition depends a lot on my Biochemistry background (in fact, all CCNM students must take two courses in Biochemistry in order to complete the program; understand the biochemical pathways is necessary in order to understand how nutrients impact health. All nutrients (those found in foods and in supplements) are nothing more than a bunch of co-factors required by various enzymes in the body. And that is really all that health is too: a bunch of optimally operating biochemical pathways!

Whenever I say on the blog "We learned about an awesome way to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in Nutrition class", I don't mean we learned that eating more kale, sweet potatoes, and egg yolks can cure chronic fatigue, but rather that supplementing high-dose vitamin B12, glutathione, n-acetyl cysteine, and alpha-lipoic acid can correct chronic fatigue syndrome.

It may seem allopathic to treat with such minute compounds, but as my Clinical Nutrition professor said in class [paraphrased], these specific treatments are required to correct complex illnesses.  Often when patients seek health care, their illness is grave enough that adding more kale simply won't due the trick.

Obviously a CFS patient wouldn't have to be on this supplement regime for life; he or she will likely have to follow the treatment plan for several months until improvement is seen. Only then, when the patient is back to a optimally-functioning level, can the patient use whole foods to maintain health.

What is often seen in the field of naturopathic medicine is that isolated, high-dose nutrients are needed to tackle serious health conditions. Diet and food alone don't always cut it!

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