Definition of nutritherapy

Health Care

Definition of nutritherapyA little history

Already in ancient China, more than five thousand years ago, it was observed that the consumption of seaweed was beneficial for carriers of goiter. We now know that they took advantage of the iodine contained in these algae.

The Romans found that drinking the water in which they kept their armor cool gave them more energy. In France, moreover, the lack of iron is still called “martial” deficiency, named after the Roman God of war.

As for the Greeks, they advocated garlic, onion, apple, etc.

Finally, Hippocrates enacted his famous “Let your food be your medicine”. more than two thousand eight hundred years ago.

It was in the 19th century that we began to recognize the different categories of molecules that make us up: proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. Then, at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, biochemistry was refined and we discovered the importance of elements in smaller quantities in the body: minerals (called trace elements when they are in very low quantity) and vitamins, which we finally understood that the lack could be fatal and generate diseases such as scurvy, beriberi, pellagra, rickets, anemia …                                                   

The medicine of the twentieth century has evolved dramatically, both thanks to the advances of previous centuries and by innovative medical techniques and technologies, drugs and chemical molecules ever more powerful.

Thanks to these medical advances, combined with a marked improvement in the hygiene of life in our countries, and above all thanks to the reduction in the consumption of calories, life expectancy has made major increases in recent decades. One only has to look at the latest WHO report or the statistics from the World Bank to be convinced. In its 2014 report, the WHO quotes: “A baby girl born in 2012 can expect to live an average of 72.7 years and a baby boy born in the same year 68.1 years. This is six years more than the world average life expectancy for a child born in 1990 ”. According to the World Bank, in 2012, Belgium crossed the 80-year mark of life expectancy at birth for the average of its population. This is something to celebrate.

And yet …

There is a decline in many countries. The life expectancy of American women fell by 2 years, last year in France overall mortality increased.

In addition, life expectancy in good health is stagnating. Cardiovascular disease kills 17.3 million people annually, cancer, which is worryingly increasing in frequency, including in children, causes 8.2 million deaths per year and diabetes 5.1 million.

In a March 2015 file, the WHO further pointed out that 47.5 million people are affected by dementia worldwide and that 7.7 million new cases are declared each year. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, is thought to be the cause of 60 to 70% of cases.

Finally, the number of cases of obesity has doubled since 1980. In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults – people aged 18 and over – were overweight, of which more than 600 million were obese.

More worryingly, 42 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2013.

All these diseases are called “diseases of civilization”

Man, by “becoming civilized”, has succeeded in making himself sick by his food choices, pollution, sedentary lifestyle, stress, deterioration of the quality of sleep.

With the brutal methods of intensive agriculture and the overuse of fertilizers and chemicals, the soil has become terribly poor. Our plants have thus lost much of their nutritional richness. By favoring poorly chosen monocultures (gluten-containing cereals, pro-inflammatory corn, etc.) and an intensive breeding policy, the agro-food industries have invaded the market for pathogenic products. In addition, modern methods of preservation, preparation, refining and cooking at high temperatures, as well as the use of food additives have further altered the nutritional quality of foods. Not to mention the arrival of prepared products that are too sweet, too salty with a high content of saturated fat, trans or omega 6, which have transformed food into a real generator of pathologies.

Since the 1950s, the essential role of macronutrients and micronutrients in the prevention, treatment or co-treatment of numerous pathologies has been highlighted by tens of thousands of experimental, epidemiological and clinical studies.

From the 1950s to the 1960s, Roger Williams, discoverer of vitamin B5 and Linus Pauling, American chemist with a double Nobel Prize, put forward the possibility of orthomolecular medicine which acts using physiologically active substances (vitamins, minerals , trace elements, essential fatty acids, amino acids), in order to correct the functioning of genes (what is now called “nutrigenomics”) and cells.

From this wave of work was born a new discipline:


A discipline which speaks to the body its own language, with molecules which compose it (amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals…) and which allow it to function and similar molecules, resulting from plant biochemistry.


Welcome and contextualization

Introduction to the medical context

  • Current medical machine centered on the “war on disease”: antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, analgesics, febrifuges, antihistamines, lipid-lowering drugs, anti-hypertensives, anti-depressants, etc …
  • Undoubted success, but bankruptcy at the level of public health, because the diseases are better treated, but their frequency increases (except slight decrease in cardiovascular incidence). Explosion of overweight, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, in lower and lower age groups. Exponential growth in food intolerances, allergies, inflammatory diseases. Doubling the number of cancers every 20 years, 5% more French people on chemotherapy each year. Alzheimer’s explosion and other degenerative diseases also linked to the aging of the population. Abuse of drugs and unjustified medical procedures. Unbearable costs and consequences: several million days of hospitalization due to side effects of drugs, approximately 20,000 deaths per year + 750,000 nosocomial infections associated with 10,000 additional deaths (overuse of antibiotics is the leading cause of the appearance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria). The elderly are systematically put on anxiolytics and hypnotics to be better “managed”. On average, a senior is on 6 drugs per day. A study taking all the Social Security records of patients over 80 shows that they consume more than 10 per day! However, one of the basic rules of pharmacology is that at more than 3 drugs, the interactions are uncontrollable. The elderly are systematically put on anxiolytics and hypnotics to be better “managed”. On average, a senior is on 6 drugs per day. A study taking all the Social Security records of patients over 80 shows that they consume more than 10 per day! However, one of the basic rules of pharmacology is that at more than 3 drugs, the interactions are uncontrollable. The elderly are systematically put on anxiolytics and hypnotics to be better “managed”. On average, a senior is on 6 drugs per day. A study taking all the Social Security records of patients over 80 shows that they consume more than 10 per day! However, one of the basic rules of pharmacology is that at more than 3 drugs, the interactions are uncontrollable.
  • The pharmaceutical industry has “manipulated” doctors and authorities to lower standards eg: cholesterol and “invent” new diseases, in particular psychiatric (DSM IV).
  • Most drugs are symptomatic and not curative. This curative ineffectiveness leads to long-term dependencies. Ex: anxiolytics instead of magnesium. Almost all drugs have anti-nutritional effects that are not taken into account (rare exceptions such as potassium with corticosteroids), which is a major cause of side effects. The side effects of drugs benefit the pharmaceutical industry because they lead to the prescription … of other drugs.
  • To market new drugs the industry has not published negative studies and has hidden the side effects (eg statins, Vioxx, anti-diabetic Avandia to which 83,000 heart attacks are attributed in the USA and which has been discreetly withdrawn from the drug. French market, Mediator, pills causing cerebrovascular accidents, Dépakine in pregnant women, etc….).
  • The benefit / risk ratio of medicine has deteriorated overall.
  • The High Authority of Health (HAS), in 2011, following the scandal of the Mediator, asked to “get out of all drugs” and recommends starting with nutrition, physical activity, and psychological therapy …
  • But in practice, doctors are not trained either in the control or in the prescription of these tools, which would require an in-depth reform not only of teaching, but of consultation. The prevention consultation is still not reimbursed. Current rates do not allow time for discussion with the patient that would allow such a comprehensive approach. Some health insurance funds and mutuals are moving in this direction.
  • It would be a question of mastering not only the tools of diagnosis and “war on disease”, but also the tools of health promotion, the restoration of energy, the diagnosis and the correction of food imbalances and nutritional deficits. , strengthening of immune, anti-inflammatory, antitoxic defenses, repair, adaptation and healing capacities, diagnosis of environmental pathologies, environmental sanitation protocols (work, transport, home, cooking, etc.) , addiction reduction protocols, including medication, compensation for the antinutritional effects of drugs, stress management tools, sleep optimization, long-term coaching techniques including in the field of physical activity, etc….

Implication for physicians

  • New skills integrated into basic training, new professions which meet the real health needs of the population: ex: fatigologist / stressologist, preventologist, preconception medicine, etc., the doctor can be a conductor, prescribing and coordinating other interveners in nutrition, sport, environmental medicine, ergonomics, psychotherapy …
  • The specifications, the means and the powers given to trades theoretically devoted to these objectives, but which currently do not have the means, such as school medicine, occupational medicine, must be revised.

Redefinition of consultation:

A consultation must include after listening to the reason, a time to systematically explore the nutritional, environmental, life and psychological components of the patient (part of this data could be collected by questionnaires on the internet beforehand), the clinical examination, the prescription of relevant analyzes and priority components of treatment. It must be followed by a long-term coaching type progression, that is to say recording the progress of the patient from where he started, to make him progress in stages in the long term. Interest of a “logbook” which allows the patient to follow his progress.

Definition of nutritherapy

Nutritherapy optimizes functions, prevents and co-treats pathologies by:

  • techniques for changing eating behavior,
  • the diagnosis and correction of nutritional deficits and overloads,
  • the pharmacological use of foods, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, phytonutrients,

Objectives of nutritherapy:

  • Health promotion: restoration of energy, assessment and correction of food imbalances and nutritional deficits, coaching techniques, awareness of environmental pollution (work, transport, home, cooking, etc.),
  • Optimization of functions: energy, weight and body composition, solidity of the skeleton, joints, tendons, digestive functions, absorption, metabolization, elimination, anti-infectious and immune defenses in general (roles in cancers), anti-inflammatory protection, hormonal modulation, reproduction (male and female fertility, pregnancy, childbirth), physical growth and brain development, physical and intellectual performance, resistance to stress, concentration, mood and decision-making and adaptation, detoxification and repair capacities (DNA, proteins, cell membranes, tissues, vessels, heart, brain, skin, tendons, cartilages, muscles, etc.), slowing down aging and longevity in good health …,
  • Prevention of alterations in germ cells, preservation of the genetic heritage and reproductive capacities, prevention of acute (infectious, allergic, etc.) and chronic (MS, degenerative: cancers, cardiovascular diseases, etc.) pathologies,
  • Reduction in the consumption of drugs and medical procedures, reduction of side effects of drugs (compensation for anti-nutritional effects and protective factors) and medical procedures (eg: irradiation during a CT scan, nosocomial infections),
  • Treatment and co-treatment of pathologies whether they are genetic, acute, chronic or degenerative. Whatever the tools used: allopathy, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, psychotherapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy, etc., a patient whose energy has not been restored and whose nutritional deficits and overloads have not been restored. have not been corrected cannot fully benefit from the therapeutic potential of these techniques,
  • In addition, foods and nutrients have pharmacological effects which make it possible to reduce the doses of these treatments and therefore their side effects.

Means of nutritherapy (and additional means)

  • Food (diet has so far been mostly private: calories in case of overweight, sugar in case of diabetes, salt in case of hypertension, game in case of gout …)
  • Nutritional advice has almost no effectiveness (eating behavior is mainly reptilian and emotional behavior),
  • Short-term plans have a very limited interest,
  • It is therefore more a question of giving positive advice: highlighting what there is to gain, a good food drives out a bad one (when you eat fish you don’t eat meat, etc.),
  • It is therefore a question of introducing, gradually, but in the long term, new habits,
  • This requires the mastery of behavior change techniques that the patient appropriates,
  • This requires the ability to rebalance instinctual and addictive behaviors (sugar, alcohol, tobacco, etc.) via the modulation of serotonergic systems, as well as habits (endorphinic conditioning) and “misplaced predation” mechanisms,
  • Nutritional supplements: vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and phytochemicals (three levels: nutritional, deficit correction, pharmacological doses),
  • Additional means: reduction of the toxic load (environment and detoxification), phytotherapy, physical activity programs, ergonomics, energizing techniques, massages, osteopathy, thermal cures, stress management tools, psychotherapy, support groups and associations of patients, etc …

Benefits of nutritherapy

  • Nutritherapy speaks to the body its own language with molecules: amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. which compose it and allow it to function, which largely explains a benefit / risk ratio from the start that is much higher than that any xenobiotic intervention,
  • It is not an alternative medicine, it is based on biochemistry of which it is the practical application and it is supported by tens of thousands of epidemiological and intervention studies,
  • Nutritherapy has a considerable power on prevention, too little approached by allopathy,
  • Nutritherapy is a way to lengthen healthy lifespan.
  • Nutritherapy is in any case essential, even when it cannot, on its own, treat a pathology, the other techniques not being able to economize on the energy level, and the revitalization of the cellular processes essential to the reduction of the side effects of these techniques. and their effectiveness,
  • A large part of nutritherapy is based on changes in food choices, the first essential intervention, associated with breathing techniques, injection of movement in daily life, tools for stress management, sanitation of the environment. , optimization of sleep, etc., all this being associated with increased pleasure and comfort, unlike certain taking of drugs, hospitalizations, medical procedures which are only used when one is obliged to do so. to do,
  • Pleasure is an essential component (validated by studies) of the treatment,
  • The positive approach to dietary advice associated with the appropriation of behavior change techniques has an impact on all of the person’s capacities for better living and healing ability,
  • Many recommendations are associated with pleasure: eg dark chocolate, red wine in moderate doses, etc …
  • The pleasure of eating is in fact an integral part of the process, training in tasting having many positive effects (eg satiety, digestion …),
  • Food supplements are only justified if the optimal nutritional intake cannot be obtained through food, if the needs are increased (eg: growth, pregnancy, sport, etc.), if a dose is needed. deficit corrective or pharmacological, if the pharmacology requires separate intake from food (eg amino acids precursors of neurotransmitters),

The evolution of the universe to man

Knowledge of the origin of the Universe, of the Earth, of Life, of Man, of biological functions is fundamental for therapists and patients, because it is the basis on which the appreciation allows to motivate all the nutritional changes. and profitable lifestyle.

A person who does not perceive the “magic” side of his existence, does not love himself, is not motivated to stop smoking, eat better, take food supplements, breathe consciously, move, acquire non-tools. toxic stress management, …

Author Jean-Paul Curtay

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