Getting Started with Nutritional Therapy: What’s it all about?

Before embarking on any intensive health protocols, the nutritional therapy foundations must be in place. These are the true pillars your body needs to have the energy and resources to withstand enhanced detoxification protocols.

When you embark upon improving your health holistically there are many factors involved in the process. The good news? Eating a bio-individualized nutrient dense diet can help you make big strides! 

However, you wouldn’t be seeking help with your nutrition if there weren’t a few details to consider. In this article I’ll review the foundations of nutritional therapy.

The nutritional therapy foundations are factors that are most commonly out of balance when consuming a standard American diet, and that you’ll be reviewing in your work with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner to find the unique combination of foods (and supplements) that are right for you.

The Nutritional Therapy Foundations

At the core of every individual person are nutritional needs, that change according to your lifestyle and season. To better understand how you can improve your health with food and lifestyle changes, it can be helpful to view our needs through the lens of foundations.

The Nutritional Therapy Foundations are the core categories which describe key areas to address when coming up with a bio-individual nutrition plan.

Read on for a quick glance at the roles played by the Nutritional Therapy Association’s foundations: digestion, blood sugar regulation, fatty acids, mineral balance, hydration, and a properly prepared nutrient dense diet.


There is nothing more important than restoring proper digestion in the body! Every cell of your body requires nutrients to function and those nutrients come from food.

Your digestive system is there to convert the food you take into your body into nutrients. If you can not assimilate and absorb nutrients then you will develop deficiencies that will later manifest as symptoms of dis-ease in your body.

Digestion involves a north to south process, starting from the moment you start thinking about preparing a meal, until several hours later when you have completed digestion, absorbed the nutrients you body needs, fed your microbiome and excreted the remains.

Food must be mechanically broken down in your mouth by chewing, then swallowed and chemically broken down in you stomach. The majority of absorption happens in your small intestine, with some vitamins made in your large intestine.

The process is long and involves a variety of hormones and enzymes. There really are so many places where something could go wrong!

For example, in our stressed lives, we often don’t get into a parasympathetic state necessary to begin digestion. We don’t slow down enough to chew our food properly making digestion much harder on the rest of the body. Many of us suffer from low stomach acid production and an unbalanced microbiome.

Without proper digestion, we simply can not absorb the nutrients from our foods. Symptoms such as heartburn, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating, as well as food intolerances all indicate we need to work on our digestive system.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Your body needs energy to run and that is from glucose. We get glucose from the food that we eat and this is our blood sugar. Maintaining blood sugar regulation is an integral part of a well functioning body.

Blood sugar impacts not only the energy production in your body but also your hormone balance, mood and brain health. When our blood sugar is unstable it causes a stress on our body. (And when we have stress in our body, it causes further dysregulation of blood sugar).

In an ideal state, your body is able to use carbohydrates, fats and proteins to create energy for use in your cells. When you eat, your brain detects that your blood sugar is rising and tells your pancreas to release insulin to store the excess for later. This way when you are between meals your body can convert the stored energy forms back to glucose.

However when our blood sugar is dysregulated either because of stress, a poorly balanced diet, an imbalanced microbiome, depletion of nutrients, oxidative stress from toxins in our environment and/or the use of stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol the system described above doesn’t work in the same way.

What happens when our blood sugar is dysregulated? Our body taps into its emergency system.

Blood sugar that rises very high, following a high sugar meal, causes so much insulin release that your blood sugar falls extra low. Then your adrenals come into play releasing adrenaline and cortisol to save you so that your body is able to get your blood sugar back up. However, when you have your next meal, and the cycle starts over again.

It really is so easy to get into a pattern where your blood sugar is dysregulated, particularly if we consume processed foods that are high in carbohydrates. By balancing our macronutrients, we can work to rebalance our blood sugar and maintain sustained energy throughout the day and improved sleep.

Lower stress to support blood sugar regulation

Fatty Acids

Dietary fat is incredibly important for the proper functioning of our bodies. Simply put, the cell membranes of every cell in your body, is composed of a phospholipid bilayer (read=fats).

Without enough fat, the cell walls loose their integrity and their ability to transport nutrients in and out of the cell becomes compromised. Fats serve as a protective lining for organs in the body. They allow for the proper use of proteins, and act as building blocks for our hormones. They are critical for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K).

Fat in an incredible source of energy in the body. It slows down our metabolism so that we have steady absorption and utilization of glucose (see above). Coupled with that, the presence of fat in the small intestine sends a message to our brain to trigger satiation. No less important, fat tastes good!

There are many different types of fatty acids, but the fats we consume can be classified according to their level of saturation, though most will have a combination of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Ideally, we need to consume a combination of healthy fats (animal fats from pastured animals and cold pressed oils) for optimal health.

Two essential fatty acids which we need to get from food, are Omegas 6, linoleic acid, and Omega 3, alpha linolenic acid. They are involved in the way our body processes inflammation. We need them to make the inflammation to take care of whatever “issue” the body is dealing with, and we also need them to de-inflame when they finish their job, so to speak.

The vast majority of us consume too many of the inflammatory oils (vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil), and not enough of the anti-inflammatory oils. A body with an imbalance or inadequate amount of fatty acids may be inflamed or show up as joint pain, itchy skin, hormonal issues or fatigue.

Mineral Balance

Minerals are inorganic compounds and are essential to consume in our diet, because we have no other way of getting them and they are essential for the proper functioning of our bodies.

Minerals have important roles as co-factors for enzyme reactions. The outer lipid bilayer of our cells, mentioned above, has a sodium-potassium pump to shuttle nutrients across our cell membranes. They are essential for nerve conduction.

Minerals regulate contracting (calcium) and relaxing (magnesium) of muscles. They regulate tissue growth through thyroid hormone (iodine).

Our bones are made mostly of calcium, the most abundant mineral in our body, which is the foundation of our structural and functional support of our body (Nutritional Therapy Association, 2020).

Or current nutrient-poor growing soils mean we get less minerals from our food, and our stressed lifestyle depletes our minerals rapidly. Together, this means that many of us could use a deeper look at our mineral status and how it is impacting our health.

Many may want to consider supplementing with trace minerals, to support overall wellbeing.

Minerals and hydration from natural spring water


An unfortunate reality is that many people are in a chronic state of dehydration. Your body mass is made up of 55-60% water (Tortora & Derrickson, 2019), and a decrease in just 1-2% will already have you displaying symptoms of mild dehydration. This could look like thirst, headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and even anxiety or muscle cramps!

Here’s an easy tip: at the first sign of any of these symptoms, drink a glass of water! More tips on hydration here.

Water is an essential nutrient; we can’t live without it! Our own bodies can only produce about 200 ml a day (Tortora & Derrickson, 2019), so we need to consume the rest of it through our food intake and water and other beverage consumption!

Water transports nutrients to our cells. It literally moves our food through the digestive system, by hydrolyzing our foods and forming part of our body’s digestive fluids. It then transports wastes out of our body and in the process helps our detoxification systems.

Having sufficient water intake is important to help absorb shocks and lubricate our joints. It moistens oxygen for easier breathing, and improves oxygen delivery to our cells.

Water is extremely important for helping us regulate our body temperature. By sweating we can cool our body down, but we then need to replenish the lost water and electrolytes. Electrolytes being minerals that are necessary for our body to absorb the water we take in.

Nutrient-Dense Diet

As mentioned at the beginning, the place to start improving your overall well being is always a nutrient dense properly prepared whole foods diet. Nutrients are the substances in food that are required for sustaining life (Nutritional Therapy Association, 2021). The nutrients you eat are the ones that feed your body, build your cells and give you energy. Give yourself the best!

What does a nutrient dense diet look like?

Choose food that are as close to their natural form as possible. That means eating meats that are grass fed and finished, poultry and eggs that are pastured, and fish that is wild caught. Ideally, you eat “nose to tail”, including the incredibly nutrient dense organs.

It includes a variety of vegetables and fruits, preferably organically or bio-dynamically grown, consumed seasonally based on your geographic location.

You could incorporate legumes, grains, nuts and seeds as long as they are properly prepared, which means that they have been soaked, and/or sprouted to remove anti-nutrients and make them more digestible and their nutrients more bio-available.

If you’re ready to get into the details of how to implement this nutrient dense diet based on your own bio-individual needs, schedule a discovery call to see how we can work together!

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Nutritional Therapy Association (2021) Basics of Nutrition [PDF Document]. Retrieved from: wrap=1

Nutritional Therapy Association (2020). Mineral Balance Dysfunction [PDF Document]. Retrieved from:

Tortora, G. J., & Derrickson, B. (2019). Introduction to the Human Body. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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