What is Nutritional medicine?

Nutrition was first articulated by Hippocrates in 500 B.C. and he still represents an ethical ideal in the study of human health today.

Nutritional medicine recognises the properties of foods and the effects they can have on the body, we may be able to prevent, aid and cure diseases with the nutrients within specific foods. With the additional option of treating patients with an array of nutritional supplements. While trying to educate and increase awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of the foods we eat.

Principles and Philosophies

Nutritional medicine is about choosing the best foods for our body, including supplements and our eating habits. Looking at the relationship with foods we eat, how they make us feel and why we choose them.

The nutritionist would encourage people to change unhealthy lifestyles and be aware of issues of food abuse, alcohol, and misleading food packaging labels.

Nutrition is a diverse modality, it draws on social sciences, laws, morals and logical reasoning. Biomedicine’s disease focused approach has meant that there has been neglect of self healing and holism; therefore complementary medicine modalities have had a resurge in popularity, with an increased interest in their holistic approach to medicine

Nutritional therapy is client centred and combines knowledge and practice of diet, medical health counselling, and client education .There is also respect for individual autonomy empowering others to improve and help themselves via education and commitment to clients. It’s about seeing the whole person, not a biochemical puzzle that needs to be solved

The client-clinician relationship is in itself therapeutic and is an instrument for human growth and development. By treating the whole person, body, mind and spirit a healing process is initiated. Ongoing education proceeds from the client’s interests, concerns, experiences, and information provided by the practitioner.


Natural medicine in the 21st century

Food has become a political and social problem instead of embracing the concept of “Food is medicine, and medicine is food”. The creation of an obesity epidemic in the first the world is due to readily available food and poor food choices. Obesity is the result of an interaction of genes and environment and is a risk factor for heart disease and cancer.

Due to the lack of fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains, fibre and in some cases quality protein in the American people’s diet, Heber & Bowerman state that “One out of three women and one out of two men will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime”(Heber & Bowerman 1999). It is proven that vitamin A, C, E, beta carotene, Selenium, coenzyme Q10, glutathione and antioxidants all help to prevent cancer, all of this is available in foods and/or vitamin supplements. Potter reported that cancer can be reduced by 30-40% by the implementation of a diet and lifestyle change (Potter 2001).

In 1960 dieticians were recognised by obtaining state registration under the ‘Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act. Research proving the effectiveness of nutrition made food as medicine a credible modality.

Over the years we have seen a change in medical attitudes towards nutrition. In May 1993 the New England journal of medicine published studies that showed high doses of vitamin E would reduce risks of heart attacks and strokes in men and women. It was almost impossible to get enough vitamin E from food so the journal recommended vitamin E supplements. Therefore demonstrating that nutritional supplements can be a useful preventive.

An example of gaining interest in nutrition is the US military. They started turning away from biomedicine and turning to nutrition in natural medicine modalities. They commented that the conventional care offered tended to relyon prescription medications. This caused dissatisfaction with the troops and a gained interest in natural medicine modalities. They were interested in the fact that natural medicine modalities offered a holistic approach, with the self being recognized and interest in the nutrition of the troops.

Although nutrition continued to deem important for maintaining health, dietetics didn’t progress until the 19th century when advances in chemistry were made. Early research focused on vitamin deficiency but later proposed daily requirements for protein, fat and carbohydrates.

In the 21st century nutrition associations are all over the world and work with physicians. The growing interest in diet requires the training of more professionals; as people realize the therapeutic potential of foods to aid in diet-related conditions.

Nutritional medicine is being recognised as an important part of public health in the modern world. It can become an effective tool to help promote and educate the public which will lead to maintaining healthier lifestyles and prevent disease.



  • Nutrition therapists look at vitalism, science, and spirituality; that in turn enables clinicians to betterunderstand their patients
  • Nutrition teaches holism in healing
  • Insurance companies have started to cover some natural medicine modalities
  • When used as a preventative, can end up a lower cost the then the continuation of conventional medicine and prevent diseases such as cancer
  • Nutritional medicine treatments are not painful
  • Has a code of ethics to protect public health practices
  • Save money for the government in overall Health Care costs Nutritionists use a combination of counselling and education to help clients



  • Not covered by some insurance companies can incur some costs to the client
  • Some nutritional information hasn’t got enough scientific evidence to back it up
  • Some physicians are not comfortable with nutrition as a medicine, resulting in a lack of referrals
  • Some herbal and supplement preparations can have adverse effects when used in conjunction with prescription drugs
  • Also the unpredictability associated with products from nature Lack of uniform licensing which can result in ineffective therapies and therapists


Sited research

Potter, J 2001, Chairman of WCRF/AICR, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, viewed 23rd March 2008, www.anac-au.org-food-for-cancer-prof.pdf

Kroesen, K, Baldwin, C, Brooks, A, & Bell, I 2002, US Military Veterans’ Perceptions of the Conventional Medical Care System and Their use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, viewed 20th April 2008, http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/19/1/57

Hwalla, N & Koleilat, M 2004, Dietetic Practice: The Past, Present and Future, PubMed: Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, viewed 23rd March 2008, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16335757?ordinalpos=11&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

1 Comment

  1. I am commenting to let you be aware of of the fantastic experience our child found visiting yuor web
    blog. She even learned so many things, most notably how it is like to have a wonderful giving mindset to make certain people smoothly learn
    a variety of complicated matters. You undoubtedly exceeded our own expected
    results. Thanks for producing those necessary, healthy,
    edifying and unique guidance on this topic to Sandra.