Branches of Nutrition

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When we think of nutrition, many people think of those labels on the sides of food packages telling us how much fat and how many calories we are about to consume.  There is much more to nutrition than just this, however.  A degree in health sciences and nutrition can lead to any of the different sub-branches of nutrition, each of which focuses on a slightly different aspect of the field.  A few of those sub-branches are:

Holistic Nutrition is basically treating the body as a whole.  This means not treating individual symptoms (aches, illness, allergies, high blood pressure, etc), but finding a way to balance the whole body through what food you eat in order to eschew any physical or mental ailments one might have.

Nutrigenomics, or Nutritional Genomics, is the study of how diets interact with genomes, and more specifically, how they relate to certain diseases and cancer types.  This is a research-focused profession, working to help prevent disease through healthy and correct eating habits and finding the best foods possible for our bodies.  Those in this field also work to bring this knowledge and technology to developing and struggling countries to help improve their overall health and eating practices.

Nutrition Physiology is the study of how nutrition affects our physical health.  Researchers look at how diet, exercise, and sleep affect our bodies; how good nutrition can help with quicker recovery from illness or injury; whether there are differences in diet between those in rural areas versus suburban and what affects that might have, and so on.  This field studies the body down to its smallest cells to see how it is affected by what we consume and how we treat it.

Prenatal Nutrition is focused specifically on pregnant women’s health.  This field addresses what and how much women should eat to provide for both their own health and that of their unborn child.  It also provides information on healthy weight gain during pregnancy, what foods will provide the most nourishment for mom and baby, and what will help build energy to help with healthy breastfeeding after the child is born.

Sports Nutrition focuses on helping athletes get the best possible diet and exercise in order to perform at their peak.  Sports nutritionists help athletes in any sport determine what foods, vitamins, minerals, and fluids their bodies need in order to train and compete at their best and without causing injury to their bodies.  They also help athletes set up plans so they get the right amount of rest as well as what to do if an injury does occur.

Clinical Nutritionists work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers.  They help those with illness, disease, or injury set up diet plans that will help them meet their nutritional needs.  They also work with doctors and nurses to implement these plans and evaluate the results.