Nancy Tran, registered holistic nutritionist for the virtual wellness clinic Holistic Pharmacy and Nutrition in Bradford, has a lot to say when it comes to addressing an individual's dietary needs and health problems.
“Holistic health-care practitioners frequently spend more than an hour with a single patient,” said Tran, who co-founded the practice in 2019.
She says nutrition counselling should include more than just healthy eating.
“The average length of a regular doctor’s appointment, according to research, is slightly under 16 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to address all of the patient’s worries.”
She points out holistic nutrition focuses on educating people to help them make better lifestyle choices, develop healthy habits, and take control of their health and well-being, compared to conventional approaches based on generic nutrition plans.
“How are you supposed to manage your medical condition and achieve optimal health if your doctor or dietitian prescribes a broad program that everyone, regardless of age or gender, can follow?” she asked.
Tran said there are several false claims about holistic health care, starting with the idea holistic practices aren’t primary health care, despite certified professionals.
“This could be related to the willingness of holistic practitioners to use complementary and alternative medicine,” Tran said.
She said the notion of holistic doctors only prescribing vitamins rather than medication is also a myth.
“Holistic health experts recognize the need for vitamins and supplements, but they also advise patients on using prescription pharmaceuticals when necessary. We understand that supplements are not a panacea for all health problems,” she said.
However, rather than a standardized approach, such as tests for identification of medical disorders and preventing further health issues, says Tran, holistic nutrition focuses on investigating an individual’s total physical and mental health.
Some patient-related factors commonly missed in the conventional clinical approach include socioeconomic status, quality of life, and the patient’s expectations, wishes, motivations, and other lifestyle influences.
“The patient, not their diagnosis or symptoms, is at the focus of a holistic approach to mental health care. We focus on the whole person by addressing their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs,” she said.
There are signs to watch for that indicate a holistic approach is needed, such as when the patient experiences only short-term benefits and then relapses or reverts.
“Thinking about each patient holistically implies considering them as individuals with their unique medical history, but also desires, values, family situation, social circumstances, and lifestyle, all of which contribute to their experience with a health condition or disease,” she said.
Holistic Pharmacy and Nutrition, says Tran, commits to assisting individuals in treating the underlying causes of their illnesses, and spending less money on drugs that only mask the symptoms of the disease.
It’s also a goal to prevent further problems and comorbidities caused by specific medical disorders.
“Patients with prediabetes, for example, have a 15 to 30 per cent probability of acquiring Type 2 diabetes in the next five years if it is not addressed. Preventive programs and practices can reduce this risk, such as diabetes self-management education sessions,” said Tran, adding she runs the clinic with a pharmacist partner, who manages the medication side and is a diabetes educator.
After a couple of years serving the Bradford area, Tran noted her experience with local people has been positive.
“Bradford residents have an open mind and accept the holistic approach to health.”