Are all nutritional therapists crap?

16 Jan

I know  lot of  therapists. Physio, Massage, Nutritional, Angel ( yes there are angel therapists), Crystal ( yes there are crystal therapists): you name it , there’s a wankey therapist to treat it.

In many cases, therapists are harmless  jesters, prancing around the edges of health, but with some quite grounded messages: stretch a bit, dont eat too much refined shite,  be nice to your Guardian Angle, focus on a piece of quartz to solve your financial problems ( the Germans are buying a lot of this at the moment as you can imagine).

The problem with therapists is that they  often prey on the vulnerable. Selling quack cures to cancer sufferers is  a multi million pound market I bet. The real problem is that they can, if being stupid ( or revealing in the pretend power that “healing” brings), impede the  referral process.

The referral process is crucial in therapy: therapists should always ensure clients are in a dialogue with their doctors.  This is the major error exposed by the recent “Which” report on nutritional advise. I dont care if a therapist tells you to rub dock leaves up your bottom as  a cure for being short sighted: it could work. They go wrong if they  add, stay away from a doctor/or optician “because they dont understand”

Always, always, be part of the referral process. Check out the recent “which” review of nutritionalists

8 thoughts on “Are all nutritional therapists crap?

  1. Can’t agree enough! Why have we forgotten about our clinical qualified dieticians? Who maybe a little out of touch but still have good scientific understanding of nutrition.

  2. Problem is they are not doctors. They lack the fundamental understanding about how the human body actually works. This means with the best will in the world they misinterpret both the science behind the symptoms and are not really qualified enough to offer sound advice. Added to this, they have memory bias which skews their judgement based on the clients they have previously worked with (ie a tiny sample size of the general population)

    It’s like getting legal advice from someone who’s studied a really specialist area of law but hasn’t been trained in the basics.

    Unless referred by a doctor to one, I would steer clear.

  3. Pat – but on the other hand, and as previously discussed at length on this blog see (Phils BMI rant) your GP does not always deserve the badge of all-knowing-trusted-party. Doctors have their own memory bias based on ‘traditional’ thinking and a lifetime of practice which may not embrace genetically suitable diets such as paleo. So how would you get referred to a suitable dietitian if that was where you needed to go ?

    Its not just a question of diet either – there are too many examples to name right now, but my dads continues mis-diagnosis of MS by his GP and my friends struggle with not just their GP, but their consultant Paediatrician reluctance to embrace a treatment that change their son’s life are just examples of how imperfect the system is.

    Its easy to see why there are plenty of people out there willing to fill the intellectual void. But sometimes the problem is that they ARE doctors. Doctors are only human – and in that respect, very error prone and change averse.

    Oh yea, and it took 2 visits and 3 doctors and three days to diagnose my broken collar bone in April last year, despite an x-ray which ‘clear as day’ showed two cracks, and a patient with moving parts where there should be none 😉

  4. Gosh, absolutely Alex, don’t disagree, that was not a ringing endorsement of the medical profession by any means. My parents are doctors and tell similar stories.

    Diet is an area I think GPs generally get right though, despite the heavy criticism they get (interestingly you don’t hear too many professional sports people criticise their doctors diet recommendations). In terms of the general public, they do their best. One problem GPs talk about is they see an obsese patient who claims “i never eat” or “i exercise a lot” or “i don’t drink much”. There’s a lot of people living in denial and that’s almost impossible for the GP to sort out. Another subgroup self diagnose themselves with with allergies and intolerances which again doesn’t really give the GP much of a chance to help them.

    Guess there is an obvious void as you said, but would be good to fill it with more peer reviewed quality practicioners, rather than the current position.

  5. There are a number of issues with the Which? report which could turn around and bite dietitians. They have been far to casual in their approach here with this study, and finished up using the exact same bad science as they are attacking. For instance using a sample size of only 15 nutritional therapists from a total population of about 2000 is really lazy. It means that there results just arn’t valid statistically. Its also left itself wide open to accusation of bias because the ‘review’ committee all have a history of opposing nutritional therapy. Really careless. Actually leaves them open to defamation imho.

  6. Not to attack doctors per se, but being based next to a hospital I have had doctors, consultants and nurses as clients and have been very surprised as to their lack of knowledge on nutrition.
    I’m talking the basics here, not even nutrition for fitness. I guess, they cannot be expert on every thing, which is understandable.

    First test question for anybody claiming to be a nutritional expert should be “What’s a calorie?”; if the person cannot answer that succinctly without
    hesitation, then I do not care what letters they have after their name. Of course, that doesn’t indicate how competent they are, but it’s a good starting point, and you’d be surprised how many (or few) trainers or nutritionists do not know the answer to that most fundamental question.

    Now, off you google is your friend :-0

    In my experience good, experienced proven trainers, possibly combined with (though not necessarily) a dietician qualification, are the best sources for fitness nutrition advice. For example, a good body-building prep/finishing coach needs to know his/her stuff, no question – they cannot wing it when their reputation is on the line and they are charging for results.

    There are plenty of Dr’s out there with best selling books carrying dubious claims.

    There is also the problem of official governmental nutritional advice e.g. the Food Pyramid versus, well, better nutritional advice.

  7. @Chris, I agree completely. The WHICH report smacks of Daily mail sensationalism. That is not how to do research.

    1) By what criteria did they choose 15 nutritionists?

    2) You could easily find 15 quacks in any field.

    3) What was the aim of the research?

    I am not saying that nutritionists are good or bad but you cannot take 15 people in a population of 2000 and call that representative.

  8. @Chris sorry to be a legal geek here but there’s no defamation claim there at all. Are you a defamation lawyer? If so, I disagree unless there’s really recent case law I’ve ignored (not meant to sound harsh obv)

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