Nutritional Therapy

Nutritional therapy is the application of nutrition science in the promotion of optimum health and peak performance, disease prevention and patient care. (British Association of Nutritional Therapists, BANT)

First Step Therapy Centre is pleased to provide nutritional therapy services as part of our overall approach.

We currently use Jane McClenaghan or one of her colleagues to advise on the supplementation of vitamins, minerals, healthy foods, allergies and for biochemical testing. Jane is a registered member of BANT ‘whose primary function is to assist its members in attaining the highest standards of integrity, knowledge, competence and professional practice, in order to protect the client's interests, nutritional therapy and the Nutritional Therapist’ (BANT Website)

Nutritional Therapy and Disease

Nutritional therapy and supplementation is vital to the recovery of individuals who are ill and also for the maintenance of good health. The human body is the most complex organism on the planet. It functions through the utilisation of millions of biochemical reactions every day, which, for example are used to make energy from food, to send signals to and from the brain and regulate body temperature, etc.

There are 12 systems in the human body which can benefit from nutritional therapy, these are:

Circulatory (Heart, arteries, veins and blood),

Digestive, (From the mouth, to the oesophagus, stomach and intestines)

Endocrine, (Hormone production and control)

Muscular, (Controls body posture and movement)

Nervous, (Processes information between the brain and the nerves)

Reproductive, (Controls sex organs and reproduction. Also responsible for the transmission of genetic blueprint to offspring)

Respiratory, (Controls lungs and breathing)

Skeletal, (Supports and protects the organs)

Urinary system (Eliminates waste and by-products of the biochemical processes

Immune (Defence against foreign body and disease)

Integumentary (Skin, hair and nails to protect the body and regulate body temperature)

Lymphatic (A fluid carrying network system, which works in conjunction with the other systems)

When the human body is in a healthy state, these 12 systems work in perfect balance and harmony. They may regulate or boost one another as necessary, to maintain optimum state of performance. If one or more of these system’s performance become impaired, it can have a global impact on the body. Studies have shown that many of these system malfunctions are a direct result of nutritional deficiencies. For example, when the brain has an inadequate amount of the nutrients for the manufacture of neurotransmitters, it begins to malfunction, leading to many chronic conditions. To help maintain the biochemical balance, additional supplementation is required to compensate for these deficiencies.

Nutritional Therapy and Modern-day Foods

Recent studies have shown that the levels of nutrients in foods have steadily decreased. There are a number of reasons for this, such as:

Food being harvested before it is ripe, to prolong shelf-life and allow transportation to the point-of-sale.

Soil quality has become reduced through intensive farming and the reduction in ‘fallowing’ (the leaving of fields to recover after harvesting to allow the replenishment of essential minerals and nutrients).

The use pesticides, herbicide residues, chemical additives, artificial fertilisation and preservatives.

Storage/distribution/transportation and finally excessive cooking all conspire to rob our natural food of its precious cargo of life-sustaining nutrients. Coupled with the zest for ready-prepared meals and convenience foods such as hydrogenated fats, margarine and spreads, it is easy to see why the modern diet does little to contribute to the maintenance of the equilibrium of these interconnected systems of the human body. An example of this is a Japanese publication (Japan Standardised Ingredients List) into the amounts of Vitamin C in 100g of spinach. The results are a stark warning to us about the quality of food that we are eating today. In 1950 there was 150 mg of Vitamin C per 100g of spinach, in 1963 it was 100 mg, in 1982 it was 63 mg and in 1994 it was 13 mg. No doubt in 2008 this is now likely to be a single digit mg figure, which means that eating it is practically of no benefit to us, nutritionally.

On the plus side, studies have shown that with increased supplementation with a broad range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, we can maintain this system balance and even reverse some diseases.

Many diseases that afflict humans today have been discovered to be as the result of mutations (flaws) in a person’s genetic blue-print. These flaws may have been introduced at conception (e.g. Mitochondrial and/or Chromosomal DNA mutations), during pregnancy (exposure to toxic substances in the womb e.g. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome) or have been acquired as the body develops (e.g. exposure to aluminium in Alzheimer’s Disease). Poor nutrition or exposure to toxic agents or disease may lead to a damaging of this blueprint, which may then cause a genetic abnormality to be expressed and this then can result in chronic illness or disease. Everyone’s diet (good or bad) and consumption of vitamins, minerals and nutrients (or not) can modify how their current genetic make-up is expressed. This can result in a good systems balance or a diseased state. Ageing can be viewed as part of this process as old cells in the body fail to work at optimal performance and are killed of by the body only to be replaced by healthy cells. When the numbers of cells to be replaced outnumber those that are made, then this shows itself as illness and disease. When some or all of the body systems are so compromised that they cannot function, then the body is unable to survive and death finally ensues.

However by looking after our health and keeping these body systems in an optimal state, we can stave off this looming milestone for many more years and have a fit, active and disease-free life. Two phrases spring to mind to conclude this piece. ‘You are what you eat’ and ‘Treat your body as a temple’ have never been more apt.

Biochemical Testing in Nutritional Therapy

In order to determine why an individual is having a chronic illness, it may be necessary to carry out some biochemical testing, to identify which part of which system is showing poor performance. A neurological problem along with other factors could be as the result of poor digestive system performance from bacterial overgrowth in the intestines, which results in poor absorption of nutrients, with which that system needs to function. another example is an abnormally low magnesium count in the blood, which may result in seizure activity from overactive calcium ion channel activity in the cells of the brain. Elements like Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium work together to maintain equilibrium in these cells, but if one or more of these minerals is 'out of sync' then unexpected activity can occur e.g. seizures.

There are many types of test available using urine, blood and hair samples. The Nutritional Therapist will be able to advise on the most suitable test for you or your child’s condition.

Presently, we use Genova Diagnostics Europe (formerly known as IWDL Ltd) for our testing and you can find out more about the work they do by clicking on the above link.

You can also find out more about the nutritional therapy that Jane provides by clicking on the above link.