As many of you know, I am honing in on the last few months of my program to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA). But what is an NTP, and how does this credential differ from that of a nutritionist or a dietitian?
Registered Dietitians (RD) must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program and pass their state dietetics examination. This is a licensed profession in almost every state.
Nutritionists are not licensed, but generally in most states one has to posses a degree in nutrition in order to call themselves a nutritionist. This is not true of all states, however. Some states such as New Jersey have no regulation whatsoever and allow even people with no training to call themselves “nutritionists”, so buyer beware.
The down-side to both of these is their training (ironically). Unfortunately, like the pharmaceutical industry and it’s influence over most medical school curricula, both of these degree programs are heavily influenced by “big food” (companies such as McDonald’s, Coke, and Kellogg’s) . After this article went viral last year people are becoming increasingly aware of big food’s influence on both professions formal education and continuing education. Much of what is taught in these programs is the same old, ineffective, potentially harmful and just plain old untrue dogma we’ve been stuck with for years- fat makes you fat, low calorie and low fat is best, cholesterol is the root of all evil (and heart disease), and the pinnacle of a healthy diet is the vegetarian or vegan diet.
That being said, there are more and more forward thinking RDs now,including this woman in Raleigh. She has an article about why one may wish to choose to pursue an RD above another program, available here.
So what is an NTP?
Nutritional Therapy Practitioners (NTP) are not licensed in any state as of yet, but hold a certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association. Having gotten through almost the entire curriculum now, I can honestly say that it beautifully blends the world of holistic, ancestral nutrition with a functional medicine-like mindset. NTPs appreciate the fact that everything starts with the gut, and thus start their work there and work their way out.
NTPs also differ from their RD and nutritionist counter-parts in the way that they typically develop their management plans. For RDs and Nutritionists, their recommendations are most often based on the USDA food pyramid (which has long been under scrutiny). NTPs are generally more inclined to prescribe other diets such as the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet (GAPS), Paleo/Primal, Autoimmune Paleo (AIP), gluten-free, low FODMAPS diet, and the Weston A Price diet rather than the diet the USDA food pyramid outlines.
For more on the USDA food pyramid and its many problems, check out the book Death By Food Pyramid (affiliate link) by Denise Minger.
Because NTPs don’t hold a license, they are not able to order and interpret labs. However, they do an exam and some basic tests that allow them to hone in on what your body needs non-invasively. I am particularly fortunate to be able to blend both functional medicine and nutritional therapy together due to my license as a doctor of chiropractic. If you can’t find someone like me with both credentials in your area, partnering with one from each world (an NTP and a functional medicine doctor) is always a good bet, too.
If you or somebody you know is interested in working with a functional medicine doctor please call my office at (919) 238-4094 and see if we are the right fit for you. Infinity Holistic Healthcare is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, part of the Raleigh-Durham “triangle” area.