Knowledge and Proficiency in Low Carbohydrate Nutrition: A Dietitian’s Responsibility.

By Tamzyn Murphy, RD, MSc (Dist)

Dietitians are the only healthcare professionals whose entire degree is dedicated to equipping them to prescribe personalised nutrition and dietary interventions to promote health and prevent and treat specific health conditions. A dietitian’s bespoke dietary assessment and prescription is called Medical Nutritional Therapy (MNT). Dietitians are qualified and equipped to use MNT in the treatment of a variety of diseases – from chronic kidney disease and liver failure to diabetes and obesity – and in a variety of populations from paediatric to palliative. Unfathomably, apart from the application of ketogenic diets (the strictest form of low carbohydrate high fat – LCHF) for paediatric refractory epilepsy, dietitians’ extensive nutritional training does not include the research-based application of LCHF diets.

There is strong evidence that LCHF diets benefit insulin-resistant conditions (e.g. metabolic syndrome [1-3], Polycystic Ovarian syndrome [4, 5], prediabetes [6, 7], and Type 2 Diabetes [8-11]). Estimates of 30-60% of the population may be insulin resistant [12-14], and this number is rising alongside obesity prevalence [2]. This implies that LCHF could improve health and reduce the risk of disease in a big portion, if not the majority, of people. This alone is sufficient reason why all Dietitians’ should be trained in LCHF nutrition. Add to this the mounting evidence that an LCHF diet may be as good as, if not better than other dietary interventions for improving body weight control [15-17], heart disease risk [18, 19], and endurance performance [20-22], and in its strictest ketogenic form, cancer [23-26] and Alzheimer’s disease [27-29]. As such, it is essential that dietitians become knowledgeable about LCHF as an MNT option for all of these.

If the scientific support for LCHF weren’t enough reason for Dietitians to become proficient in LCHF MNT, there’s more… Patients have the right to choose their own course of treatment, including dietary intervention. LCHF, in its various forms – including Paleo, Banting, and ketogenic diets – is rising in popularity. Individuals are seeking out health professionals to guide them in applying their carbohydrate-restricted diet-of-choice, troubleshoot problems, assess risk, and enhance efficacy – only to be left unsupported and alone. This can result at best in an ineffective dietary intervention, or at worst, adverse effects, disenchantment with the medical fraternity, or even the unnecessary proliferation or progression of a disease.  This is unacceptable. The health professional best equipped to help them – the dietitian – often lacks training in this dietary intervention. It is a dietitian’s responsibility to know how to guide patients and clients to the best form of LCHF for them and then tweak it for success, and be able to advise when to proceed with caution, or contraindicate LCHF in particular patients or situations.

Luckily, increasing numbers of dietitians are realising how effective LCHF diets can be for a variety of clinical applications and are seeing the need for professional guidance for patients pursuing this dietary intervention. Previously, interested dietitians had to educate themselves on this intervention – making their knowledge ad hoc and very dependent on the time they had out of clinical practice to investigate. At last, there is an internationally curated, evidence-based LCHF training designed for dietitians, by dietitians, synthesizing the most important evidence and applications of LCHF in clinical practice, so that the health professional is responsible for Medical Nutritional Therapeutic interventions can help their patients and clients in a meaningful way.

If you are a Dietitian or Certified Nutrition Specialist and are interested in including LCHF in your offering, apply to enrol in our new LCHF FOR DIETITIANS online training by following this link: www.nutrition-network.org/apply-now/

Or click here to login and register.

The training will be launching on 31 October 2019. Register before 1 November 2019 to qualify for the Early Bird Discount.

CPD Pending.


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