There isn’t a simple explanation for this, as the answer is both yes and no.
Yes, because many of my clients do see improvements in their health within a few weeks of their first consultations with me, especially those who come with what are classed as more ‘minor’ complaints. Even those with more serious issues find that they quickly feel the benefits of eating more healthily.
For instance, they might come to me about rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis or chronic fatigue, or many other health issues. Alongside these conditions, they may have numerous other symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, bloating, anxiety, mood swings, heavy periods, acne, food sensitivities, allergies, hayfever. The list goes on.
Often, clients will find that that, by supporting their chronic health conditions with specific dietary and lifestyle changes, they will quickly start to see improvements in the other, seemingly unconnected, aggravating symptoms which make their lives difficult.
The reason for this is that nutritional therapy is a holistic approach. This means that the body is seen as a whole, where each system is not a separate entity, but interlinked with every other. Therefore, if you are supporting one bodily system, you are inadvertently supporting all the rest.
So when isn’t nutritional therapy a quick fix?:
- Our bodies needs constant nourishment. Most foods in the standard Western diet have had their nutrients stripped away and contain ingredients that promote inflammation in the body (and this is alongside the high stress lifestyles we lead; the toxins we are exposed to in the air, our food, in our homes, in medications, at work etc). We need to feed our bodies the right foods to provide adequate nutrients to function properly, but also to reduce inflammation. We often start to see improvements in our health when we provide all the nutrients our body requires, but if we stop and go back to our old eating habits, our bodily systems start to malfunction again, and we might see the return of our symptoms. Eating well is a long-term commitment. You may have heard the expression “a lifestyle, not a diet” and this is what nutritional therapy is all about. It’s not simply about losing weight only to gain it all again. It’s not about eating well for two weeks for therapeutic reasons, only to go back to square one, once you’ve achieved your goal. Nutritional therapy provides you with an education where you learn about how foods work synergistically and biochemically in your body to help you function at your best; it also empowers you so you can finally start to take control of your health, rather than your health taking control of you. Though it may sound frightening to make long term changes at first, a good health practitioner will support their clients into a new way of eating over many weeks and months. Once those same individuals start to feel better, and they see they can eat freely as long as they choose foods wisely, they find eating a healthy diet is not so restrictive or difficult after all, which makes it easier for them to commit in the long term.
- For every year you’ve been unwell, give yourself at least a month to recover your health. Many conditions bubble under the surface and take years to become fully symptomatic. A return to health, for some, may take as long. Our bodies are amazing structures whose primary purpose it is to keep everything in balance (known as “homeostasis”). This means that, although we might be lacking vital nutrients or be under a great amount of stress (which puts extra pressures on us by depleting nutrients and raising inflammation), our bodies continue to try to function normally and keep everything running smoothly. Initially, we might simply notice that we are fatigued, suffer headaches, or that we get colds more easily. However (here comes my favourite analogy) like a car with little oil, eventually, your internal engine will stall, especially if you hit the fast lane for any length of time. The longer you have been running on low oil, and at a high speed, the more damage you are likely to have inflicted on your engine. Greater damage may equate to more complex health issues. This doesn’t mean there is no point in trying to improve your health, however (eating better will always have positive effects on your body, even if you don’t notice them at first). What it does mean, is that it may take longer to start to see real benefits.
- It all depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you want to simply feel a little better than you feel right now, then you will likely see quick improvements. However, for those suffering with complex issues who want a return to a state of previous good health, this may take many months, and in some cases, even years. My daughter is a case in hand. Through a specific diet, we quickly controlled her Hidradenitis Suppurativa (chronic, multiple abscesses). However, reducing her body’s reactivity to other foods has taken much longer and involved functional testing (eg. food intolerance test, stool test, organic acid test and genetics tests) as well as personalised lifestyle changes and supplementation. Her gut health took a beating through years of antibiotics and other medications, and I know it will take time to address these imbalances. I have to also consider that she may never fully regain complete health, but even as she is now, her quality of life is a hundred per cent better than it was a few years ago when her future seemed to be one of constant infections, medications and surgeries.
As I tell my clients, there are no guarantees with nutritional therapy, but you should find that your body thanks you for improving your diet in many glorious ways. Your body may thank you by increasing your energy, reducing aches and pains, improving mobility, improving mood, reducing anxiety, sleeping better, and not reacting to every food you eat.
In many cases, nutritional therapy may not necessarily be a quick fix, but like most things in life, if you are willing to put in the hard work (especially with the support of a health practitioner) you’ll reap the rewards.
To wake up every day after a good night’s sleep, without aches and pains, and feeling ready for anything… personally, I think it’s a goal worth working towards. Don’t you?