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A naturopathic nutritionist is a health care professional who specializes in providing dietary guidance and advice from a holistic, natural health care perspective. Depending on the jurisdiction in which the nutritionist practices, he may provide dietary advice, prescribe special diets, and give nutritional counseling and support. Many naturopathic nutritionists are committed to promoting the consumption of whole and organic foods, though the dietary philosophies of naturopathic nutritionists may vary widely. The requirements to become a naturopathic nutritionist vary by jurisdiction as well as the professional goals of the nutritionist.
Naturopathy is an alternative medicine modality that focuses on maintaining health and treating illness through natural methods such as herbs, nutrition, and other complementary therapies. There are various types of naturopathic practitioners, including naturopathic physicians, midwives, and fitness trainers. Most place considerable emphasis on nutrition, both in the form of nutritional supplementation as well as healthy eating habits. The naturopathic nutritionist specializes in nutritional aspects of the naturopathic philosophy, though some naturopathic physicians, who have broad training in naturopathy, may also choose to specialize in nutrition practice.
Some naturopathic nutritionists practice independently, while others work with other health care practitioners, including naturopathic and medical doctors. The scope of practice of the naturopathic nutritionist depends on her own competence as well as health care law in her area. A naturopathic nutritionist may be able to work in concert with a primary health care practitioner who can order various types of nutritional testing for a patient to help the nutritionist determine the best eating plan to meet that patient's needs. In situations where a patient is exhibiting specific symptoms or has been diagnosed with a medical condition, the naturopathic nutritionist can prescribe a nutritional approach to treating the condition and minimizing its symptoms.
Training to become a naturopathic nutritionist can vary considerably. In some countries, naturopathic schools offer academic degrees, certificates, and diplomas in naturopathic nutrition, which in some cases permit graduates to qualify for licensure as nutritionists or dietitians. Some jurisdictions regulate the practice of giving nutritional advice very loosely and do not require those who practice in the area of nutrition to be licensed or to hold any particular educational credentials, which can allow graduates of unaccredited naturopathic schools to practice freely. Individuals seeking advice from a naturopathic nutritionist should inquire as to the nutritionist's training in order to make sure that he is qualified to give nutritional or even naturopathic advice.