9 Reasons to See a Functional and Integrative Dietitian
Everything you eat has a chance to either nourish you or potentially harm you. Research and experience have shown that proper nutrition and gut health are essential in quieting inflammation and infection, and even in preventing illness. Healing the gut with nutrition and sometimes personalized supplements offers a strategic starting point to expedite healing and to help resolve seemingly unrelated symptoms you or your child may be experiencing.
Every person, whether adult or child, deserves individualized attention when it comes to nutrition. There may be a certain diet that tends to work best for a diagnosis, but everyone has unique circumstances that may need attention. A dietitian will ask a lot of questions to make sure she understands who you are, what your life looks like and what your goals are. So, if you fall into any of these categories, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a dietitian:
1. You’re Having a Baby (Or Thinking About It)
Your diet and nutrition during and before pregnancy can determine the long-term health conditions of your child. For example, low prenatal iron levels can result in “fetal growth restriction, as well as offspring obesity and high blood pressure later in life” . Not only should iron levels be regular during pregnancy, but if they aren’t normal during conception, there’s an unlikely chance that there will be enough iron for the pregnancy throughout the gestational period . And that’s the effect of just one vital nutrient.
A nutrient-rich diet is advised for pregnant women and those in the preconception phase. They not only need to feed their bodies, but also need to give their offspring those vital nutrients, as well [2,3]. Talking to a dietitian about your specific needs, instead of guessing, will result in a healthier pregnancy and an overall healthier life for your child.
2. You Have a Chronic Condition
Although this is a huge category that encompasses many conditions, including Autism, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and more, a nutritional diet for each of these conditions can help maintain or improve symptoms. The Western diet can cause or exacerbate chronic conditions. These diseases affect 50-65% of the adult population, but are nonexistent in less Westernized civilizations . A diet based on whole, unprocessed, organic foods is a start, but a specific diet may be necessary for your chronic condition.
For example, a study of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis assessed the effect of the following four diets: Vegan, Elemental, Elimination and Mediterranean. In all of the diets, they saw a decrease in inflammation and RA progression .
The effect of the ketogenic diet on type two diabetes has also been studied, showing several benefits including weight loss and improvement of lipid profile .
Although there are a number of studies showing the benefits of one diet or another on a chronic condition, it’s important to see a professional who can help determine the best diet plan for you. Your environment, medical history, food allergies or sensitivities and more, play into whether a diet will work for you.
3. You Have Digestive Problems
If you experience common symptoms like constipation, heartburn and bloating, you may need to reevaluate your diet. Symptoms could mean anything from a disease, to an allergy, to an overall unhealthy gut. Sticking with your current diet could exacerbate the issues, so it’s important to see a professional to pinpoint what’s causing your symptoms. A dietitian will take a look at your current diet, supplements, medications and lifestyle to determine what could be causing your digestive issues. Each person is different, so what’s causing your issues might not be what’s causing your friend’s. She may suggest to add more probiotics, begin a elimination diet, or add another supplement into your regimen to help the digestion process.
4. You’re Considering a Diet Change
If you’re considering going keto, mediterranean, Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or making any other diet change, it’s best to talk to a dietitian beforehand. She can make sure the transition is smooth, and come up with a meal plan that will work for your schedule and environment. Getting enough nutrients through your diet is key, and she can ensure that when you make the diet transition, all vital nutrients are accounted for, and the diet is safe for you.
5. You Think You May Have a Food Allergy
Over 170 foods have been associated with allergic reactions, but 90% of allergies have milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, or soy to blame . Common symptoms of a food allergy are: tingling or itching near the mouth, hives, dizziness, abdominal pain and diarrhea . Whether you think you have a food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, it’s good to get a professional’s opinion. A nutritionist can guide you through steps to start an elimination diet or get the proper tests to diagnose an allergy. Once you’ve pinpointed an allergy, a nutritionist can help you take out the food from your diet successfully and replace lost nutrients.
6. You’re Considering a Fast
Fasting has become a hot topic in the past few years. There’s a few ways to do it: 16:8 fasting, the Warrior Diet, water fasting, and more. Benefits of fasting often include: weight loss, lower blood pressure, decreased appetite and reduced brain fog. Talk to a professional before you embark on a fast to make sure it’s safe for you. A dietitian can also help in planning your eating windows, preparing you for a longer fast, and how to reduce your potential for experiencing negative side effects.
7. You’re Getting More Active
Whether this means ramping up your exercise days, or training for a marathon, your body is going to need more fuel to make it through the day. Not to mention, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, your marathon meal plan will be different than if you’re an omnivore. Not only what you eat, but when you eat it, could be a determining factor of athletic performance . Talking to a dietitian about your relationship with food and best practices can help you perform better and not get fatigued so quickly. A dietitian can come up with a diet plan that’s right for your body, and gets you the healthy carbohydrates you need. So you can complete those workouts with ease!
8. You Want to Lose Weight
If you’re frustrated with your weight, a nutritionist can help pinpoint why your body won’t seem to shed the pounds.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that three-quarters of Americans will be obese or overweight by 2020. This national health crisis has to be addressed one person at a time. Just as there are many causes of weight gain, there are many solutions for losing the weight. It may be you’re eating too much sugar and refined grains  or too much fat  or there may be another reason! A dietitian can help you pinpoint the underlying cause of your weight and create a diet plan specifically targeted at your needs.
There are many strategies and diets that have been proven to reduce weight. For example, the ketogenic diet has been proven to help weight loss in obese patients , as well as lower cholesterol, blood glucose and more. It’s also been proven that daily fasting can help weight loss . There are a number of other diets that have been proven for their efficacy in weight loss, but a specialized diet is the only way you’re going to get the results you want and keep them. A dietitian can help you come up with a diet plan that you can stick to, based on foods you like, don’t like, or are allergic to. Because a diet shouldn’t be just a “diet” — it should be a lifestyle that you can stick to.
9. You’re a Unique Human Being
We’ve listed eight different reasons you might go see a dietitian, but we could go on and on. The thing is, if you’re a unique human (so, everyone), you should see a dietitian. Everyone’s body is different, and has its own strengths and weaknesses. A diet should be tailored to each individual person, their likes, dislikes, conditions, family history, intolerances, and much more.
- Maternal Iron Status in Pregnancy
- Canadian Consensus on Female Nutrition
- Diet in Pregnancy– more than food
- Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet
- Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for Management of Type Two Diabetes
- Comprehensive Nutritional and Dietary Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder-A Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial.
- Food allergies, food intolerances
- Food allergy-Symptoms
- Effects of fasted vs fed-state exercise on performance and post-exercise metabolism: A systematic review and meta-analysis
- Key to Weight Loss is Diet Quality
- Dietary Fat, but Not Protein
- Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet
- Daily fasting works for weight loss