Diet, nutrition, food and health have never been discussed so much in our lives and media as it is today. There are many health issues attributed to poor diet and nutrition. For example, the wrong food can lead to a lack of energy, weight gain, digestive problems and contribute to depression and anxiety. That's why there is a growing awareness of nutrition and a demand for good advice and qualified Nutritional Therapists. There has never been a better time to study nutrition!
Definition of Nutrition
From Oxford Dictionaries: The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth: a guide to good nutrition
- Food or nourishment: a feeding tube gives her nutrition and water.
- The branch of science that deals with nutrients and nutrition, particularly in humans.
Why is the study of Nutrition so important?
There are many conditions that arise from poor nutrition, some fairly obvious ones will be familiar e.g.: Hypoglycaemia, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Some conditions arising from particular nutrient shortages will however be quite surprising to most of us e.g. Schizophrenia has been associated with high levels of copper and low levels of zinc in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis often responds positively to changes in diet. Many chronic mental conditions, such as depression, anorexia and hyperactivity in children can be successfully improved through addressing the dietary input: both its quality (and quantity) and its timing.
Most alternative practitioners are seeking to work holistically, that is to say the treatment is not aiming to make the symptom disappear, but to address the underlying cause, which may have its roots in a very different location from that of the symptom. A simple example would be a headache resulting from hypoglycaemia. Having exhausted the possibilities of musculoskeletal causes arising from pressure on nerves, a brief look at the patient’s pattern of eating may reveal that they are not eating enough to provide the energy needed at the right time each day and this energy “gap” is manifesting itself as a headache.
It is possible to treat a condition only to find that the practitioner’s good work is being undone on a daily basis through poor nutrition. Much of the work of alternative practitioners is aimed at encouraging the body’s own natural healing energy and this natural vital force is very much informed and complemented by the energy-supplying functions of the liver. Poor nutrition can result in poor liver function and so a cycle of poor health is perpetuated.
It can be seen, then, that a working knowledge of nutrition can complement other therapies in many, often unexpected, ways.
Levels of study in the field of Nutrition
If you are interested in studying nutrition it helps to understand the course options that are available to you so that your learning matches your chosen vocation:
- If you just want to learn about basic nutrition for home use then our distance learning Nutrition Beginners Course is ideal for you.
- If you want a more in-depth course and would like to set up as a Nutrition Advisor or if you are a practicing therapist (in a vocation other than nutrition) and you wish to gain more knowledge about nutrition to enable you to better advise your current clients/patients then the online and distance learning Nutrition Advisor Course is the one for you. You can also use this course as the start of your training to become a registered Nutritional Therapist.
- If you want to set up as a registered Nutritional Therapist with insurance and accreditation then our online and distance learning Nutrition Therapy Course is the ideal option. You will need to study Year 1 and 2.
- If your aim is for a serious career in Nutrition as a Therapist then we would recommend a 3 year course, you would complete your training to level 6 (equivalency) with clinical supervision and gain an Advanced Diploma. Take a look at our Nutritional Therapist Advanced Diploma Course. You would also have the option of doing a 4th year in Naturopathy. For those that want an academic career as a dietician or who with to work with the NHS, working in research or education, we would recommend a degree course.
Nutrition Beginner Courses
- These are shorter attendance or distance learning courses (1-2 months) and are taken by students who wish to study the basics of nutrition for home and family use.
- Graduates use the information for personal use to make adjustments to diet and nutrition for home and family use.
- These are good for gaining an awareness of the connection between food and health.
Nutrition Advisor Course
- These are generally 1-year courses, online and distance learning, and are mostly taken by students who wish to study nutrition to help clients in a simple way, for their own personal use or alongside another therapy.
- Nutrition Advisors have a good grounding in the bulk nutrients, macro and micro mineral and vitamins and practical information about blood glucose control, liver support and how to deal with simple cases.
- Graduates can give general advice on diet and lifestyle to help people stay in good health but cannot give advice on specific medical disorders related to nutritional health. An advisor is unlikely to work with supplements, if they did it would only be working with a multi vitamin and mineral (not specific, individual nutrients), probiotics and essential fatty acids and basic dietary advice.
- Often Alternative Practitioners and Personal Trainers study to this level in order to give basic advice to their patients/clients, to complement their health or fitness.
Nutritional Therapist Course
- Longer courses (2-3 years), with a more advanced look into Nutrition, Anatomy & Physiology and clinical studies, with a view to applying knowledge gained to casework.
- Attendance or Distance Learning and online with some attendance requirement (clinical).
- Nutritional Therapists complete the same learning as a Nutrition Advisor (above) but further their studies with additional training. Studies are likely include the use of supplements, red flags, lab tests etc. Nutritional Therapists Courses will include in-depth clinical training and case work. Some, but not all, therapist courses include Naturopathic training (ours does).
- After completion, students are able to gain insurance with an accrediting body and set up in practice as a Nutrition Therapist with registration with a professional body.
- Students often have the choice to complete a 4th year of Naturopathic studies if they wish.
Nutritional Dieticians & Practitioner Course
- 3-4 year courses which are more in-depth, including a high level of medical science, chemistry and biology.
- Often degree level courses studied at universities.
- After completion students can set up in practice, including working for more medical based institutions such as the NHS (UK) or GP practices and academic or research organisations.
- This can be followed by a Masters degree and then a PhD.
If you are an alternative practitioner and you have already studied Anatomy & Physiology you can apply for exemption from the Anatomy & Physiology element of our Nutritional Therapist Course, which means you only have to study the Nutrition course whilst still being eligible for accreditation and insurance etc.