Hello from Hamptons Clinical Nutrition…revealing the secrets of our trade.
The principle role of a dietitian is to use food and lifestyle techniques to improve health. When the doctor tells you that you need to improve your lifestyle, that’s where we come in.
Of course, there are all sorts of ideas available online but how do you know where that advice came from and whether it would work for you? A dietitian is trained to find the most suitable diet and lifestyle to meet your goals and support you with validated behavioral techniques that help you transition successfully.
Most importantly, a registered dietitian is trained in clinical practice and implements evidence based solutions that are tailored to the whole body health of the individual. Here are the secrets of our trade; the three pillars of whole body health:
1. Preventing diet related disease (Treating key biomarkers) – Although weight loss is far up the list of goals for most people, an HCN dietitian will also focus on key biomarkers of metabolic health; blood sugar, blood lipids, blood pressure, waist circumference. These are the indicators of Metabolic Syndrome and the reason we focus on them is because they are closely tied to obesity, inflammation and chronic disease, but most importantly they are ALL treatable by diet and lifestyle.
Many would argue (including some healthcare professionals) that weight loss should be the only consideration as it takes care of all other issues. We disagree. There are bad ways to lose weight, many of which will seriously compromise whole body health. For us, blood sugar control, achieved in conjunction with the two pillars below forms the basis of our lifestyle philosophy.
2. Promoting strength and vitality (Musculoskeletal health) - The muscles and bones are inextricably linked in supporting health and vitality and what’s good for one, is good for the other. For the young and fit, muscle strength raises the metabolism and is essential for physical strength and athletic performance. As we age, maintaining muscle strength keeps us active, prevents fracture risk and gives us a vital reservoir of nutrients if we get acutely ill.
There’s been increasing research focus on musculoskeletal health in recent years. This has identified the real benefits of consistent exercise, combined with specific diet patterns (foods rich in certain proteins and essential oils) that maintain the very best underlying strength.
3. Keeping the engine running smoothly (Ensure micronutrient sufficiency) – If the body is like a machine then it was designed by Rube Goldberg. For every action there are multiple processes and unfathomable feedback loops and all of the bits are constantly changing. To run at optimal and minimize outages, we need to give the body all the vitamins and minerals it needs in sufficient quantities.
The problem is that we still don’t know exactly what individual substances the body needs from food and in what precise quantities.
Many vitamins do multiple jobs and the body prioritizes essential functions when levels are low, so micronutrient deficiencies remain unseen (subclinical) for many years. The best example of this is magnesium, which is vital to all kinetic reactions and increasingly scarce in the food system.
On the other hand, synthetic supplements can sometimes give too much of a certain substance, throwing it off balance with other vitamins or leading to toxicity. For example, calcium supplements have been shown to lead to cardiovascular problems in the general population and are only now recommended for specific groups of people, and taken in conjunction with other vitamins.
What we do know is that real, whole food is a better source of vitamins and minerals than synthetic supplements and that many essential nutrients are found in constellation in certain foods, including the bioactive substances we don’t yet fully understand – So food should be the first stop for obtaining vitamins and minerals.
Take-away no. 1: eat whole food.
For people with specific needs (e.g athletes or nursing mothers), people with health issues, people trying to lose weight, or for those following highly restrictive diets (e.g vegans), it is worth consulting a dietitian to review where individual needs or deficiencies may occur. We first try to maximize intake with foods but will also assess where the diet may be lacking due to needs, drug interactions or preferred diet formulation and will advise the best and safest supplement strategy.