What Does Integrative Medicine Have To Do With Nutrition?

Renee Paden Head ShotWow!  That looks like a really heavy topic.  It is, but I will break it down for you.  My definition of Integrative Medicine is a cooperative of various health professionals working together and with the patient to assist the patient to achieve and maintain optimal health.  That’s a mouthful!  What this means is that medical doctors, nurses, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists and dietitians, physical therapists, massage therapists, speech therapists, psychotherapists and so on talk to each other and the patient about the best available solutions to achieve the goal of excellent health.  Everyone is different, so the scene looks different for each individual.  Wouldn’t you love to go to a health practitioner’s office and be given all the information you need to resolve your health issues?  Knowing the many various options, especially the least traumatic and most beneficial, would be a dream come true.

I would love to see true Integrative Medicine regularly practiced today, but we have a lot of garbage to get through to get to this vision.  There are some clinics, hospitals and offices that are testing an Integrative Medicine approach, because they realize the best patient care is when everyone is working together.

What brought this to mind?  I received a phone call from someone in a medical office in Lacey.  She wanted to know if I was accepting new patients.  She had a patient who had suffered a stroke and thought she could use some nutrition counseling.  I was so happy to hear that someone was thinking about a practitioner outside her view of patient care.  Although I could not take the patient, I referred her to a colleague of mine and applauded her for thinking outside the typically small box.  I explained that stroke patients often have difficulty swallowing (called dysphagia) and part of my training was to analyze the problem and make recommendations for the types of food and preparations that would give the patient the most nutrition and flavor and enable them to swallow with minimal choking.  To see this kind of thinking and concern for the patient without the tunnel vision seen so often in health care means there is hope for Integrative Medicine.

Why so passionate?  I have run into the tunnel vision many, many times.  I have years of experience with it.  You see, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000.  However, the seven years prior to the diagnosis, I was going from MD to MD trying to figure out what was happening to my body.  After I had acquired a possible cause for my woes, I went to see a neurologist.  I told him my symptoms and what I thought may be happening.  He appeared to be concerned and had a plan for a battery of tests.  When all the tests were completed, including a spinal tap, I expected the doctor to have a resolution ready for me when I came to his office.  He told me that he could not give me a diagnosis, because my spinal tap, while it was not normal, was not as he expected.  Instead of him helping me find some resolution, he told me to come back in three months, and he would do more testing.  So why did he not talk to some other experts to see what was happening if my spinal tap was not normal?  Is that caring for the patient?  Personally, I think he was just collecting money in the last few months until retirement.  He was not concerned about his patients and enjoyed taking lots of vacations on the patient visits.  Four months later, I finally got a diagnosis at Mayo Clinic.

During my time in search of a diagnosis and since then, I have run across some amazing MDs and some that I could strangle, because of their apathy, tunnel vision and incompetence.  There were many in between.  I received the best advice from a gastroenterologist, who did not practice very far outside of the tunnel.  He said, “Stay away from doctors.”  I did learn that there was a much bigger world out there and that I needed to continue to be my own health advocate.  No one can do it better than I can, because no one knows my body better than I do.

The best advice a health care provider can offer you is information on prevention.  There is a lot of prevention in Good Nutrition.  Let’s go to Food Stuff.

Food Stuff

Last week, I gave you a good resource, the Environmental Working Group, to help you lower your exposure to toxins.  I also suggested going to a farmer’s market or food co-op or growing your own to get some organically grown food.  The week before I had you look at your plate to see if you had enough colors in the rainbow to help you fight disease.

This week, I have to say to do something different.  If you normally eat out, cook a special meal at home.  Get the family or some neighbors together and have a potluck.  If you cook at home, while your family waits for vittles, get them to contribute in the kitchen.  Everyone should know how to cook.  Sometimes the guys turn out to be better cooks, so enjoy it, ladies.  I do.  Give up control of the kitchen, and your blood pressure goes down.

Add some therapeutic spices to your meal such as turmeric, rosemary or cumin.  Add some seeds or nuts to your salad like toasted sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts or almonds for some healthy fat.  I’ll talk about more of these in the weeks to come.

Most importantly, get a little sun.  It provides your skin the rays to produce Vitamin D, which is an amazing and much needed vitamin in the northern states of the US.  Get some rest and have some fun.

Let me know what you think.

In Good Food We Trust,


The views and opinions in this blog do not necessarily represent those of the SouthSoundCommunityGuide. We do however value your opinion.

Renee Paden About Renee Paden

Renée graduated with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2010, after over 20 years in the IT corporate world. Her first nutrition teacher was her grandmother, who showed her how to prepare a balanced plate. Renée spent hours in the kitchen with her grandmother, learning the importance of our relationship with food. She wants everyone to understand how urgent it is for our families to appreciate real food. Our lives depend on it, literally.


  1. That’s a power packed blog. Doctors are “practicing” medicine and some practice harder than others. Everyone needs to participate in their own care. I like sunflower seeds on my salad.

    • Renee Paden Renee Paden says:

      Thanks, Jason. You have the right attitude. You are taking responsibility for your own health! Yay! We have to be more conscious about the world around us and where our food comes from. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant. I mention them in my blog about Angelina Jolie. Take a look.

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