About fifteen vitamins, eighteen minerals, and eight in ten amino acids have been isolated as being essential for normal body functions. These nutrients are synergistic, which means that they work together to keep the body functioning at optimum level. When one or more nutrients is in short supply, the body cannot function properly, and symptoms – both mental and physical – occur.
For example, a lack of vitamin C – vital for the immune system – results in poor resistance to infection, bleeding gums, and slow wound healing. Nutrients are the chemical components of food and are essential to life, and to health. The therapeutic prescription of nutrients – prescribing nutrients to treat illness – is known as nutritional therapy, and practitioners specializing in it are nutritional therapists. Nutrients prescribed in this way are called dietary or food supplements, and they come in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, or liquids. On certain occasions, nutrients may be injected directly into the body for greater effect.
Nutritional therapy has been a complementary therapy in its own right for only a short period of time, largely because our knowledge of nutrition is still in its infancy. However, nutrition has formed the backbone of many other complementary- therapies, some of which have been practiced for thousands of years. Most good therapists in any complementary discipline will ask you about your. diet and lifestyle, and offer advice on nutrition to insure that your body is working at optimum level.
Nutritional therapy involves prescribing special diets lo alleviate specific ailments. Food allergies or intolerances may contribute to ill-health. Elimination diets that advocate avoiding certain suspect substances, often wheat and dairy produce, can be an important part of treatment. But in such cases the therapist must determine the underlying imbalance that leads to the intolerance. In other words, the intolerance can be a symptom of a greater problem such as digestive disease or irritated mucous membranes that is caused by following a poor diet.