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
• Poor sleep
• Hormone imbalances
• Autoimmune diseases
• Skin conditions
• Aches and pains
• 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