What is Clinical Nutrition?

How is a clinical nutritionist (CN) different from a registered dietician (RD)?

Nutritional CounselingGenerally, a CN’s philosophy emphasizes wellness and optimal health, through a combination of dietary and lifestyle modifications, the use of nutritional supplements, neutraceutical substances (food products that provide health benefits), and other adjunctive modalities. Often, CNs use functional nutritional laboratory testing, not to diagnose disease, but to establish optimal vs. sub-optimal levels of bodily function related to nutritional status. CNs often work in private nutritional counseling practices or work as part of a team at an integrated medical clinic.

RDs generally focus on dietetics and food intake modulation to help people who may have specific diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease. They typically work in institutional settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and schools under the direction of, or in coordination with, physicians. RDs are certified through the American Dietetic Association (ADA) after completing an undergraduate dietetics program, a supervised internship, and passing a national examination. They must follow certain ADA guidelines, such as the USDA’s dietary guidelines (i.e., the “food pyramid”).

A CN’s training can vary widely depending on the program. A graduate-level program (Master’s or PhD) at an accredited university provides a biochemical and physiological study of nutrition and its role in health and disease. It’s important for consumers, when seeking counseling services from a CN, to inquire about his or her education, training, and experience.

Nicole’s Training

Nicole graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport’s (UB) Human Nutrition Master’s Degree Program and completed an independent internship at a private clinical nutrition practice. UB’s science-based, accredited program provides a foundation in clinical biochemistry and metabolism, research methodology, various styles of dietary intervention for optimal health and disease-specific care, nutritional assessment and laboratory analysis, and developmental nutrition. Students gain counseling skills in alternative and complementary medicine using nutritional strategies.

UB’s program distinguishes itself from other Master’s degree programs in its focus on functional medicine and its growing value in disease prevention and management. Embedded in the curriculum is the concept of “bioindividuality,” which enables clinicians to provide customized, effective dietary and nutrient recommendations. The program emphasizes the evidence-based use of nutritional supplements and nutriceutical substances for general health improvement and/or complementary management of individuals with specific health problems.

Source: The University of Bridgeport Nutrition Institute

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