Should Nutritionists Be Considered Doctors?

Why Nutritionists Should Be Considered Doctors

For centuries, Native Americans have considered a “shaman,” “medicine man,” or “medicine woman” as healers. They still had the unofficial “doctor” title, despite any formal education or a doctorate degree that society puts on a pedestal. The natural herbs and healing still changed lives.

In today’s society, people trust medical doctors with their lives—that is until they get treatment after treatment and the doctors still do not know what’s wrong with them. Where do they go then?

To the last people you would find on most medical doctors’ speed dials, including chiropractors, homeopathic doctors, naturopathic doctors, herbalists, or holistic nutritionists. Medical doctors ridicule such professions, where you might hear them use the word “quack” to describe the more natural healers.

Holistic Nutritionist vs. Medical Doctors

Why would people visit holistic nutritionists over medical doctors?

It comes down to preventative medicine over the traditional medications that the majority of doctors swear by. When it comes to the people making suggestions about your health, education isn’t the only factor.

One of my holistic nutrition teachers often refers to holistic nutritionists as detectives. Think of the fictional character Gregory House, who solved many disease-related mysteries on the TV drama House. The mysteries were always solved after learning everything about the patient’s environment, food, and drug exposure.

House is a fictional character, but his healing approach is similar to holistic nutrition. It’s about asking the right questions. It’s not just about treating a condition like high cholesterol, but asking, “Why do they have high cholesterol in the first place?”

It is essentially the holistic nutritionist’s job to solve the crimes within the body, so that people eat healthy and live quality lives.

Doctors are under the influence of pharmaceutical companies who provide a large amount of the funding for medical schools, whose curriculum is set by the American Medical Association.

Holistic nutritionists recognize the connection that mind, body, and spirit play in an individual’s overall health. The holistic approach focuses on taking a look at the whole picture: dietary intake, proper supplementation, and relegation of elimination diets and eating techniques.

It is important to understand that holistic nutritionists do not treat or diagnose medical conditions or illnesses; instead, they take the preventive approach, suggesting lifestyle and dietary changes for overall life balance.

Do Doctors Understand Eating Healthy?

It is clear that nutrition and eating healthy is a key factor for preventive healthcare.

Doctors can prescribe medications once you get sick, but do they know the exact reason why you got sick in the first place? It could be related to your digestive system, or the processed food that you eat on a regular basis, but does your family physician analyze your digestion, or keep track of the food you eat?

There are some things a doctor just doesn’t know.

During a recent visit with a walk-in clinic doctor, I was surprised at the knowledge he had about nutrition. He didn’t learn that from medical school, but from the research and reading he’s done on his own time. He even told me he read the book, Wheat Belly by William David, M.D., which explains how eliminating wheat from your diet can benefit health and digestion.

More Western doctors should question the diets set out by national food guides and pyramids, the SAD (Standard American Diet), and the North American diet. They could research and study the effects of eliminating or cutting down consumption of wheat, animal products (meats and dairy), and processed foods. Some doctors do have this knowledge, and they educate patients about food choices and health decisions. But not every doctor cares for such knowledge.

During a 2010 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study, researchers revealed that the majority of medical schools fail to teach the 25 minimum recommended hours of nutrition education.

Nobel Prize nominee, naturopathic doctor, and author, Dr. Joel Wallach says the average life span for a doctor or medical doctor is 58 years old, much lower than the average age for Americans, which is 75.5 years. A reason for this could be the daily stress some doctors put on their bodies and minds on a regular basis. They might not always educate themselves about food, health, and wellness, or they would be prescribing alternative remedies to certain patients who are open to it.

I do believe doctors have an important role in society. When you break bones or conditions or diseases become serious, do not hesitate to see a doctor. But when you educate yourself about nutrition, the food that you consume, and what it does within your body, you might be visiting the doctor less often.

Who Are Nutritional Professionals?

In North America, you will find several different names and variations for nutritional professionals. In the U.S. and Canada, the “nutritionist” is an regulated term, and they may have different degrees of nutrition education.

Registered dietitians meet strict educational prerequisites to be considered a nutrition and food expert, including a four-year bachelor of science in nutritional sciences degree, a one-year internship, and a nationwide exam.

They follow treatment plans that rely heavily on scientific studies, some of which may have biased funding. They can work in hospitals, clinics, or private practices, whereas you won’t find nutritionists in hospitals.

Nutritionists will often focus more on food sensitivities and allergies. In Canada, you can become a registered holistic nutritionist or certified nutritional practitioner. In the U.S., there are nutrition consultants and health coaches that focus on holistic approaches to health and wellness. Many chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, and homeopathic doctors also have adequate education in nutrition.

Should Nutritionists Be Considered Doctors?

The title really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the health and wellness of the public. It’s about getting everyone in the world at their optimal best in all facets of health and wellness, not just body, but mind, heart, and soul.

So, until your doctor prescribes certain foods to fit your nutritional needs, it might be best to give Dr. Food or Dr. Digestion a call.

“Registered Dietician vs. Nutritionist – What’s the Diff?” Vega Blog web site;
Katz, D., M.D., “Why Holistic Nutrition Is the Best Approach,” The Huffington Post web site, April 1, 2011;
Isaacs, T., “Doctor’s woeful lack of training about nutrition dooms millions to early graves,” Natural web site, Aug. 6, 2012;
Wallach, J., “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie,” Whale web site;