Nutrition is a cornerstone of naturopathic healing. What we put into our mouths has a profound effect on our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Hippocrates said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” Naturopathic doctors and their patients take this advice to heart and address many physical complaints through dietary adjustments. Using knowledge of physiology and biochemistry, ND’s educate their patients about the dietary influences on disease symptoms and progression.
Is there one diet that is good for everybody to follow?
In keeping with the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine, naturopathic doctors look at each individual person to assess his or her nutritional status and dietary needs. There is not a “one-size fits all” diet, although there are certain general health-promoting guidelines that can be applied to most people.
What is the difference between diet and clinical nutrition?
Sometimes changing one’s diet can be enough to improve one’s health status. Other times it is necessary to supplement those dietary changes by providing nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and other co-factors. Clinical nutrition involves using vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to help heal and prevent disease. Nutrients can be given as oral preparations, such as capsules or tablets, as well as in injectible forms, such as IV’s or intramuscular injections.
Can’t we get all of our vitamins and minerals from food?
With many patients it is necessary to enhance nutritional status using targeted supplemental therapy. Some people require supplementation because of difficulties absorbing nutrients, lack of enzymes to properly digest and break down the foods, hereditary factors, or simply increased need of certain nutrients due to disease status.
Research has shown that the nutrient content of fruit and vegetable crops has declined over the last 50 years or so (Davis, D. et al. Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crop, 1950-1999. J Am Coll Nutr 2004 Dec; 23(6):669-82. See also Thomas, D. A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991. Nutr Health. 2003; 17(2):85-115). This may be due to changes in cultivated varieties with a preference for high yield crops rather than high quality.
Other theories to explain the reduced nutrient content of our produce supply include declining quality of soil and increased use of pesticides and herbicides. Some research has indicated that organically grown crops possess higher nutrient content and that animals fed organically grown feed show better growth and reproduction
(Worthington, V. Effect of agricultural methods on nutritional quality: a comparison of organic with conventional crops. Altern Ther Health Med. 1998 Jan; 4(1):58-69. See also, Worthington, Nutritional quality of organic versus conventional fruits, vegetables, and grains. J Altern Complement Med. 2001 Apr;7(2):161-73).