What is nutritional therapy? With The Institute for Optimum Nutrition

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A dive into the world of Nutritional Therapist Magdalena Marvell, who made a complete change in career direction after struggling with her own health.

Before Magdalena Marvell discovered  nutritional therapy, her life was very different.  She worked as a producer in the busy TV  industry, which left her feeling overwhelmed,  stressed and fatigued.

“As a teenager I also suffered from an eating  disorder which left me with weight fluctuation,  anxieties, gastrointestinal problems and  lowered immunity,” she says. “I realised that  something needed to be done to bring my  body and mind back to a healthy balance.”

Consulting a nutritional therapist through her  local gym had a transformative impact on  her health.

Nutritional therapy helped me to understand  the possible triggers of my health concerns,  and how to use nutrient dense food as a tool to  support a healthy balance in my body and take  control of my persisting symptoms.

Inspired by her own results, Marvell enrolled  to study nutritional therapy at the Institute for  Optimum Nutrition (ION) with a view to helping  others.  “What I love about my job is the fulfilment and  satisfaction I get from supporting and helping  others to achieve their goals.

“In my previous career where I worked in TV I  was mostly facilitating – I didn’t feel like I was  making anyone’s life better. Now, receiving  feedback from clients saying that there was  even the slightest improvement in their symptoms  is the most amazing feeling in the world.”  Nutritional therapy is the promotion of health  through personalised nutrition and lifestyle  support. It is a whole-body approach to  nutrition and lifestyle medicine that addresses  the potential underlying causes of ill-health,  rather than focusing on symptoms.

Evidence-informed, it involves a wide range of  tools which are used to assess individual health  status and identify potential nutritional    imbalances that may be contributing to  symptoms. The focus is always on the  individual client.  Many chronic conditions, as well as day-to-day  fluctuations in health and wellbeing, can be  linked to individual nutrition and lifestyle. Often,  people see stark improvements in their health  when they implement changes to their diet.

What does a nutritional therapist do? 

Nutritional therapists are fully qualified  practitioners who work with individuals on a  one-to-one basis to support health and  wellbeing. Their advice is always personalised  to the individual, rather a one-size-fits-all  approach. They take into account your health  journey, health goals and dietary preferences.  After all, what works for one person may not  work for another.

This was certainly the case for registered  nutritional therapist Robyn Puglia, who was  diagnosed with coeliac disease at the age of  23, propelling her to study nutrition at ION in  order to learn more about her health.

“Towards the end of my last year of [nutritional  therapy] studies, I got glutened [accidentally  ingesting gluten] really severely and didn’t  recover after the usual coeliac trajectory,” she  explains. “I ended up with chronic fatigue that  took months to resolve and it was nutritional  therapy that helped me to work that out.  I had to start to think outside the box of coeliac  disease and look for the extra-intestinal effects  of that cascade of inflammation and explore  further food reactions apart from gluten.

“Without my studies, I would have had to  have relied on the conventional guidelines  and advice which were not applicable in my  situation then.”

But you don’t have to have a chronic health  condition to seek advice from a nutritional  therapist. Heather Rosa, Dean at the Institute  for Optimum Nutrition, says: “Nutritional  therapists don’t just work with people who  are very unwell. We work with people who  want to stay well. For instance, if you want to  prevent or delay a condition because it’s in  the family or you’re someone who just wants  to improve their fitness, a session with a  nutritional therapist could be a good  place to start.”

The Optimum Nutrition Clinic 

A typical nutritional therapy consultation will  include a combination of health and family  history, food diaries and functional testing  to identify potential factors contributing to  ill health. The nutritional therapist will then  personalise their nutrition advice to suit your  requirements.

However, they do not diagnose or treat  disease, and recommendations are never a replacement for medical advice; practitioners  frequently work alongside medical professionals  to support individuals’ wellbeing.

To find out more about ION’s Optimum  Nutrition Clinic and Brain Bio Centre,  visit: www.ion.ac.uk/thriveclinic

A varied and exciting career 

Becoming a registered nutritional therapist is  not just about seeing clients in clinic. There  are various other career paths that can be  pursued and enjoyed once qualified.  Teaching or training: Some people find that  they enjoy the teaching side and choose to  continue their study so that they can lecture  in nutritional therapy or run training courses  for the public or other practitioners.

Writing books: Some nutritional therapists choose to share their knowledge and expertise through magazines and books, in order to help people who are struggling.

Product development: Some practitioners want to bring products to the market, such as health foods and supplements. You may also collaborate with organisations that need your expert advice for their own products.

Wellbeing retreats: Another option is to host health or wellbeing holidays where people go for relaxation, detoxification and to unwind. This can also incorporate other disciplines such as yoga, fitness or massage.

Nutritional therapy can support individuals with a range of concerns, including:
• Digestive issues
• Weight loss
• Migraines
• Poor sleep
• Stress
• Hormone imbalances
• Autoimmune diseases
• Skin conditions
• Aches and pains
• Energy
• Diabetes
• General wellbeing

For further information visit  www.ion.ac.uk or  call 020 8614 7800. If you’re interested in being part of  a growing community of nutritional  therapists skilled to support people  in their health and wellbeing, visit:  www.ion.ac.uk/thrivecareers