It’s fairly common for a medical practitioner to recommend a patient make dietary changes after a chronic condition strikes. But a new approach is emerging—using food to prevent or treat disease. The field of integrative nutrition focuses on incorporating nutrition throughout the different stages of life in order to prevent or manage illness, says Katie Ferraro, adjunct nutrition instructor at UC San Diego Extension. “As a health care practitioner, if your ultimate goal is to reduce pain, death and dying from chronic disease, which is what kills most Americans, you have to acknowledge there is a food component.”
Most doctors haven’t taken a dedicated nutrition class, Ferraro says. Extension is working to change that, offering an Integrative Nutrition Certificate for existing or aspiring health care professionals, and others who want to learn about nutrition as a means to promote wellness and prevent disease. “This is an important foundation, and UC San Diego Extension is really taking a leadership role.”
Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and many have sought advice from a medical practitioner, but “there’s this major gap in knowledge about the effects of what we eat and don’t eat on our health,” Ferraro says. On the plus side, more practitioners are beginning to incorporate integrative practices into traditional western medicine. “It’s wonderful that we have practitioners who are now starting to get more interested, both personally and professionally, in incorporating nutrition.”
Learn more about Integrative Nutrition on our website.