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Clinical Nutritionist

Certified Clinical nutritionist

Clinical nutrition is the practice of analyzing bodily functions to determine if a person is consuming an adequate amount of nutrients in order to maintain good health. 

A clinical nutritionist is concerned with how nutrients in food are processed, stored and discarded by the human body, along with how eating habits affect overall well being. As we all become more and more health conscious, many of us are choosing to take advantage of the services of some sort of nutritional expert. Between various types of nutritionists, dietitians, counselors and consultants, the task of knowing who to work with can be a bit daunting. Although under some circumstances a certified clinical nutritionist can unfortunately become just another set of credentials,

Clinical nutritionists tend to appreciate the interaction of many bodily systems working together and the role nutrition has to play in those body systems. 

Clinical nutritionists use general nutrition recommendations as a baseline, but tend to take a more “clinical” approach to individual cases using vitamin supplementation, targeted food selection, high potency “medical food”, “nutraceuticals” and other herbal remedies.
According to human nutrition expert, Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., many Americans are "vertically-ill"-not sick enough to be confined to bed, but so far from functioning at their optimal health potential. A major reason for this is our lifestyles. As convenient foods become more popular, healthy, nutrient-dense foods are being replaced with empty-calorie full foods. Record numbers of people today are out of shape, overweight, and inadequately nourished.

Studies reveal that more than 80 percent of women and 70 percent of men eat less than two-thirds the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of one or more nutrients. Amazingly, government statistics (U.S. Statistical Abstract of 1992) indicate that a whopping 98.5 percent of the U.S. population is unhealthy. Only 1.5 percent of us can actually be classified as healthy. 

One thing remains clear. There is a tremendous need for better nutrition and more ways of enhancing wellness and preventing disease. These needs have an increasing demand for biochemically-oriented nutritionists who are highly trained in complementary-alternative approaches. To meet these demands, a new field of nutrition science began in the 1980s, and the first Certified Clinical Nutritionists were introduced to the medical and healthcare community in 1991.

The Difference Between a Dietitian and Nutritionist
An excellent comparison of the dietitian and the nutritionist was made by the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists. According to their informational materials, to understand the difference between dietitians and nutritionists, we must first look at the definitions of "diet" and "nutrition." In the simplest terms, "diet" refers to the foods we eat and beverages we drink, while "nutrition" refers to the biochemical processes that result from food or beverage 

A major role of the clinical nutritionist is to consider how foods are digested, absorbed, and assimilated, and ultimately how food affects the body biochemically. Among the many aspects of nutrition research considered within this context are by-products of digestion, gastrointestinal health, neurotransmitter response, immune function, metabolic shifts and balance, allergic or sensitivity reactions, and systems and pathways of detoxification.     

The clinical nutritionist approach to diet structure is developed according to what is best for the individual-not necessarily what is a standard recommendation for the general public at large, or for all people experiencing a particular health concern. Rather than strictly advocating a pyramid or food-group-style diet, the clinical nutritionist will determine the healthiest and most effective program for the individual according to the latest nutrition research and the unique biochemical make-up of the individual.

The certified clinical nutritionist understands this theory and the wide-ranging variability of healthy people with regard to nutritional needs. Each person is seen as having a unique make-up in regard to genetics, endocrine function, digestive efficiencies, stress response patterns, liver detoxification capabilities, and other clinical profiles. Therefore, therapeutic programs developed by the certified clinical nutritionist will reflect these variations. “What is right for one person may be wrong for another. This applies to both the diet and the supplement protocols” 

The assessment
In order to correct nutritional deficiencies or prevent deficits, the CCN may assess an individual using any number of methods. Typically, these may include basic anthropometric data (physical state such as height, weight, body composition, blood pressure, and signs and symptoms), medical, diagnostic and family history and medication use, dietary data (including micro and macronutrients), supplement use, and biochemical data. Blood, urine, tissue analysis, and specialty tests such as allergy assessment, gastrointestinal analysis, and other studies reveal further dimensions of biochemical function.

The questionnaire

In addition, evaluations often include nutritional questionnaires with a 100 or more questions. These evaluations provide additional detail about the person's nutritional inadequacies, possible deficiency symptoms, lifestyle and general health. Like all methods of assessment, they help in determining the type of program best suited for the individual, or if a referral to a physician or other healthcare professional is necessary.

Many CCNs further their clinical training with graduate and post-graduate degrees. Some have advanced specialty credentials in botanical medicine homeopathy, pharmacology, counseling, and a variety of specialized therapeutic interventions (e.g., detoxification, gastrointestinal support, blood sugar regulation, weight management, cardiovascular risk reduction, immune enhancement, eating disorders, neurology, women and children's health, and preventive healthcare). Others also pursue training and certification in infusion therapy and advanced laboratory assessment.

The cutting edge training of Certified Clinical Nutritionists makes them one of todays most relied upon practitioners in the field of integrative complementary-alternative nutrition. Increasingly, consumers and professionals are recognizing CCNs as vital partners in the modern healthcare system.

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