The paradigm-changing discovery of the gut microbiome has made it clearer than ever that good nutrition is at the core of human health.
A healthy microbiome can prevent and reverse a host of diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, arthritis, eczema, autism, and cancer, to name a few. Helping people formulate a healing diet for themselves is the art and service of a nutritionist.
Here are some considerations if you want to study nutrition.
In our era of chronic diseases where pills are often viewed as the best solution to health problems, many patients don’t realize how much of their own health they can control by eating the right foods.
Even the more health-aware may not know how to distinguish solid diet advice from fads. Others who seem to be eating “right” with lots of raw vegetables and fruits may have subtle sensitivities or absorption issues that prevent them from being nourished by all the kale and cabbage they consume.
As a nutritionist, you’ll have an arsenal of tools to help people gain insight into the complex system that is their digestion. You’ll help them parse different feelings and sensations, navigate the maze of food-sensitivity tests, and find their best option for resetting.
Once clear what their individual nutritional needs are, people are empowered every day to make the choices that will keep them vital.
If your main interest is working directly with clients instead of doing research or being an academic, then the integrative approach to nutrition may be a good fit.
Rather than looking at nutrients in isolation and focusing on supplements, integrative nutrition emphasizes whole foods and takes lifestyle factors into account. For example, in integrative nutrition, an orange is more than just a vector for vitamin C, and the benefit of eating the whole fruit is greater than its nutrients in isolation.
Even the most evidence-based diet plan will do no good if a person can’t stick with it. Integrative nutrition recognizes that just as an individual’s body needs certain nutrients, one’s mindset, lifestyle, and culture also influence what diet works. Integrative nutritionists work with clients to create the food plan that works in their circumstances.
Solid Career Move
If you are already a health care practitioner such as a chiropractor, medical doctor, personal trainer, or dietician, a master’s degree in nutrition can be a worthwhile addition to your practice—and it’s possible to get one online while still working full time.
Being a nutritionist is also a viable career option by itself. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for dietitians and nutritionists is close to $57,000, and the job rate is growing much faster than average with a 16 percent increase projected from 2014 to 2024 (average rate of growth is 7 percent).
The Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition degree program at New York Chiropractic College is a two-year online program that prepares students to be clinical nutrition professionals. The program places emphasis on quality patient-centered care and the use of whole foods and therapeutic plants in an integrative approach to optimal wellness.
New York Chiropractic College
2360 State Route 89
Seneca Falls, N.Y.