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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Using Medical Nutrition Therapy to Address Medical Issues

Jun 29, 2021 06:44PM ● By Dee Harris

A quick online search for “diets” leads to a maze of eating plans touting assorted health benefits. Many diets sound too good to be true, and after purchasing another diet book or spending time trying another eating plan without success, a person may become frustrated and discouraged. Patients frequently report that they have tried all kinds of popular diets to treat their health complaints that just didn’t work. Everyone’s needs, genetics, health issues, complaints, preferences and history are very different, and each approach to nutrition must be personalized. In other words, “The best diet is one with your name on it”.

Medical Nutrition Therapy

A registered, certified nutritionist/dietitian can help navigate the plethora of diets and customize a plan for health and healing. This is called Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), and in some cases, it is a billable code that may be covered by insurance. A functionally trained nutritionist/dietitian has the ability to dig deep into the patient’s story and interpret lab reports, look at their nutrigenomics (genetics and nutrition) and create a personalized plan.

It is important to note that all functions in the body depend on nutrients, and to get the best results, we need to optimize an individual’s nutritional status. We truly use food as medicine, and we are able to work with other practitioners such as medical doctors and therapists to help give the patient the best outcome.

After completing an extensive patient history, conventional and functionally based labs are recommended for the health practitioner to use in crafting a plan for each patient. Some helpful examples of how MNT can be used are in gut health, Candida, autoimmune disease and cardio metabolic issues. 

Gut Health

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition in which patients report pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea and food sensitivities. A specific stool test or breath test is recommended to confirm the cause of IBS. Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) is one example of a condition identified by a breath test. Short-term, customized diets can starve unwanted bacteria growing in the wrong places. Supplements and botanicals support digestion during treating, as well as using a specific probiotic and prebiotic to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the right places. Again, each patient is an individual. so dietary approaches are customized.  


Candida is an overgrowth of unwanted yeast. When it is systemic and growing in the gut, it causes many digestive issues. A special stool test is prescribed and treatment includes an anti-candida diet that eliminates all sugars, certain grains, some fruits and any food that may contain mold or fungus. Digestion and lowering the candida load is supported by using botanicals. 

Autoimmune Conditions  

Inflammation is the mother of all diseases. Patients report a variety of autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease or arthritis. An autoimmune condition occurs when the body launches an immune response to an organ system and start with gut permeability. To stop the autoimmune cascade and lower inflammation, trigger foods are identified. A food allergy/sensitivity test is very helpful to help identify an issue. During an elimination diet, digestive support might be recommended and the patient put on a gut healing protocol.  

Cardio Metabolic 

With heart, high blood pressure or elevated blood sugar issues, specific protocols can lower risk and improve health. A diet with abundant variety of vegetables and limited saturated and unhealthy fats needs to be crafted for each patient. The inflammatory risks of eating a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, processed foods and fats is explained, as well as how a personalized meal plan can lower carbohydrates. Patients are directed to limit sugars and fruits and are given a satisfying diet that they can manage for the long-term.

Dee Harris is a registered, licensed dietitian-nutritionist, Institute of Functional Medicine certified practitioner and owner of D-Signed Nutrition, located at 3531 Bonita Bay Blvd., Ste. 300, in Bonita Springs. For more information call 239-676-5249 or visit  

D-Signed Nutrition, LLC - 3531 Bonita Bay Blvd, Ste 300, Bonita Springs, FL