Doug Cook

Not Your Grandmother’s Nutrition

As a published author, freelance writer and dietetic consultant, as well as in his role as Interim Dietitian-in-Chief at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Doug Cook incorporates research evidence into every aspect of his work. That evidence helps inform his approach to Functional Nutrition Therapy.

“Functional nutrition therapy is not your grandmother’s nutrition,” the Registered Dietitian and former Certified Diabetes Educator explained. “It’s not about making generic statements about ‘balance, variety or moderation’ nor is it a myopic view on just grams of protein, fat and carbs. A ‘generally healthy diet’ will not hit the mark; it rarely addresses optimal functionality since nutrient guidelines are designed to prevent overt deficiencies rather than ensure optimal metabolism.

Instead, Doug focuses on patient-focused care, integration of evidence and disease prevention. “Being your best self and having best health requires a more holistic and comprehensive approach.”

Of course, building on that base of evidence requires significant reading and critical thinking. “I’m a bit of a nerd and read at the expense of everything else,” Doug shared. “I take a buffet approach and subscribe to Google alerts, RSS feeds from PhDs and MDs, PubMed and I also go to a lot of presentations at conferences such as the annual Dietitians of Canada event. A lot of the information is preliminary without clinical application, but I keep the scope in mind.”

Being your best self and having best health requires a more holistic and comprehensive approach.

That scope comes into play in Doug’s day-to-day interactions with patients. “As an example, the old approach to addressing patients with irritable bowel syndrome was to instruct them to eat more fibre and lower stress. Now, we know about fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols—or FODMAPs—that are specific carbohydrates that can cause irritation to the bowels. I can work with patients to eliminate specific FODMAPs and gauge improvements, but I also consider their sleeping, stress levels, potential organic disease, protein pump inhibitors they might using or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) they might be taking that could irritate the gut. I look at the entire picture of their health and medications.”

With his evidence-based holistic approach, Doug is a proponent of continued food and nutrition research. “Dietitians rely on a growing body of research evidence to ensure that we always strive to deliver the best possible information to our clients and to the public,” he said. “That’s why continued support of CFDR is critical.”

© Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research 2016.