The term holistic nutrition has been slowly gaining more and more buzz on the internet and in social circles. But what exactly is holistic nutrition? What makes it different than “normal” nutrition?

A widely accepted definition of holistic nutrition is:

healing the body with whole foods


addressing the state of health from the perspective of mind, body, & spirit.

Holistic nutritionists focus on the overall health and balance of the individual and realize that many non-trauma related health issues can be managed, if not cured, with proper diet and lifestyle changes.

Disclaimer: There is absolutely a time and place for Western medicine. When needed, it is a beautiful thing to combine Western and Eastern approaches. 

Holistic Nutrition History

Holistic nutrition is a subset of a broader type of health treatment called holistic health, which goes way back. I mean wayyyyyy back.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda are considered to be some of the oldest forms of medicine, dating back 5000 years ago. They also just so happen to be under the realm of holistic health.

These two ancient medicine systems focus heavily on the energy channels and forms in the body and use herbs and other techniques, such as acupuncture, to balance these energy pathways.

Although nutrition isn’t the primary focus of these two systems, they acknowledge the role food has in the overall health of the body. You can learn more about TCM here and Ayurveda here.


Hippocrates, considered to be the father of medicine, was one of the pioneers that believed in the healing power of nature. You may have heard his name as he is responsible for the famous quote “Let food be thy medicine”.

Other physicians at the time took a different approach.

They believed that doctors should intervene on their patient’s illnesses rather than support the bodies natural healing tendencies.

Louis Pasteur

This debate went on for centuries, until the 19th century when a scientist named Louis Pasteur discovered that “germs” (also known as bacteria and viruses) caused diseases.

Let’s just say if there were kombucha companies back then, their sales would have taken a nose dive…

After Pasteur’s discovery, western medicine as we know it today started to take shape. Medicine became more about treating problems once they already occurred rather than preventing them in the first place. The emphasis also focused on treating a specific symptom which often times leads to other symptoms.

For example, treatment with antibiotics does wonders at beating an infection, but does havoc on the gut microbiome which leads to weakened immune systems and poor digestion.

Holistic health movement

Until relatively recently, this form of medicine was almost the only form of treatment people could seek.

It wasn’t until the early 1970s that people began to become frustrated with what modern medicine had evolved into.

in 1975, the first National Conference on Holistic Health was held. Today there are 6 national conferences in the United States and 15 National Symposiums.

We have come a long way, yet we still have a long way to go.

Holistic Nutritionist

A common question that comes up is “what does a holistic nutritionist do?”

As mentioned earlier, a holistic nutritionist focuses on the overall health and wellness of the individual and uses diet manipulation to address or prevent health ailments.

Plain and simple, a holistic nutritionist uses food to help the body heal itself.

Holistic Nutritionists are not governed by an organization. However, it is important to look for the certification of “Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (BCHN)” as this proves a holistic nutritionist passed certification by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board.

Here is a list of some of the courses a Holistic Nutritionist would have taken:

  • Fundamentals of nutrition
  • Pathology of disease
  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Herbal medicine
  • Advanced nutrition research
  • Pathology of disease
  • Nutrition and the environment
  • Psychology of disease
  • Biochemistry
  • Natural supplementation
  • Holistic food preparation

Holistic Nutrition vs. Registered Dietician (RD)

By no means would we want to undermine the importance of another profession or field of study.

Holistic nutritionist and RDs both play very important roles in society. The difference between the two is theirs approaches to food and its role in the overall health of the individual.

RDs assess the patient’s diet and adjusts it to help support the traditional allopathic treatments. Holistic nutritionists focus more on prevention and even treatment of symptoms with the use of diet manipulations.

As mentioned earlier, holistic nutritionists are not governed by an organization. In the United States, RDs are governed under the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Because RDs are governed by a central organization, they are licensed to work within a hospital setting, where as holistic nutritionists are not.

Holistic nutrition advantage

One of the many advantages to working with a holistic nutritionist is that they take a very non-invasive approach to treating and preventing ailments.

Hence the term holistic.

With a holistic nutritionist, you know that their recommendations will include adding (or removing) whole foods and supplements that will naturally aid in the recovery of your symptoms.

An ethical  holistic nutritionist will also be aware when it is time for you to seek medical attention. That being said, they should also know when western medicine might not be necessary and may pose risk to further harm. For example, the antibiotic use listed above.

Holistic nutrition in the future

We are hopeful that there will be a wider acceptance of holistic health and holistic nutrition in the future.

Holistic nutrition has the potential to dramatically decrease the burden high health costs have on the American people.

In 2015, Americans spent $3.2 trillion (with a T!) on health care cost, and that number only continues to rise. If the American people don’t take control of their health, this number will only continue to rise and cause stress on the population as a whole.

The obstacle in the way?


Unfortunately, most people don’t know that the food they are eating is literally killing them. And to make matters worse many of the treatments they are seeking to help with their symptoms only help temporarily but exacerbate the issues in the long run.

The answer is education. The way to help your friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens is to share helpful posts like this, talk to them about nutrition, and set an example.

The goal for this blog is to help educate you, help inspire you, and to help motivate you to do just that.

When people see you living the life they envision for themselves, they won’t be able to not ask you what your secret is.

Lizy and I also have great hope for the future with all of the research that has taken place in the last few years. Fields like epigenetics, nutrigenomics, and the microbiome of the human body are starting to make great progress.

It’s a fun time to be a #nutritionnerd!








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