Nutrition advice can often seem overly complicated and at times conflicting. So whom can you ask? Nutrition and health approaches fall into three main categories: western science, traditional and complementary. Now some practitioners offer integrative approaches, which means you may receive a combination of western and traditional medicine for example. Throughout history there have always been a range of health philosophies and practices to choose from. This is why I encourage you to investigate healthcare options and practice mindfulness, so you can gain confidence in identifying what is best for you.
Accredited Practising Dietitians
Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) specialise in evidence based nutritional and lifestyle advice and have the most training of all nutritionists. They take into consideration your total health and wellbeing picture and consider advice and treatments that you have been provided by other practitioners. APDs, like other health practitioners can hold additional qualifications such as exercise physiology, naturopathy and psychology.
Traditional Medicine (TM) Practitioners
Ayurvedic doctors and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners are qualified in all areas of healthcare including nutrition. Traditional practices are based on empirical evidence compiled from thousands of years of observation and practice. Their approach considers your environment as well as the health of your mind and body. They may provide dietary and lifestyle advice and herbal supplements. In Australia a regulating body, the Therapeutic Goods Association, approves traditional remedies for traditional use.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Practitioners
Complementary health practices include naturopathy, which started in the early 1800s and homeopathy, which is believed to have commenced in the late 1700s. These practices are based on the premise that the body has innate ability to heal itself and use natural products to assist the body. They address the health of the mind and body through diet, lifestyle and herbal remedies. Such practices are referred to as complementary when used alongside western medicine, or alternative when used instead of western medicine.
Integrative Medicine Practitioners
Integrative medicine and integrative nutrition aim to offer the best of all healing approaches available with a focus on keeping you well. The appropriate integration of western, traditional and complementary health approaches is a goal of the World Health Organisation. In Australia some APDs, medical doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and other western trained practitioners take an integrative approach.
In considering your choice of health and nutrition care reflect on which philosophy of healthcare best suits your needs? Some people experience benefit and feel confident with a purely western approach. Others are drawn to TCM or naturopathy for example. Most importantly, regardless of the path you take:
- check that your practitioner of choice is qualified and a member of an appropriate professional association (refer to the list below)
- understand the possible benefit and also any negative consequences of a particular approach
- keep all of your healthcare practitioners informed of your diet, supplements and medications. Even if something is deemed natural, it can have a harmful interaction with certain foods or medications.
Integrative Medicine may offer the way forward for all of us as it offers the best from all approaches. As science advances and ways to better evaluate TM and CAM evolve, so will our knowledge of how we may best support the healing process of our body and mind as a united entity. In the meantime I encourage you to take notice of how your eating and lifestyle choices affect your health, energy levels and vitality. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare practitioner.
Form more information: