Friday, October 9, 2009

bridging the gap between alternative and allopathic nutrition

As promised, an interview with Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist who has learned much about alternative and holistic nutrition by traveling the world {something I would love to do}. In addition to maintaining her blog, Kim also runs a beauty company [Envision Beauty] dedicated to supporting charitable projects in developing countries worldwide and avidly practices yoga.

We recently did a post exchange {read to find out more about my views of holistic nutrition} to increase mutual understanding and respect between *nutritionists and registered dietitians and those more familiar with allopathic (Western) medicine.


*For your reference: a nutritionist is anyone who specializes in nutrition, including CNS, CCN, CHHC, etc; a dietitian has passed the American Dietetic Association’s RD exam and completed 1200 hours of practical experience through an accredited dietetic internship program. An RD can be a nutritionist but usually not vice versa (not to say that nutritionists don’t have a wealth of valuable info to share; many, like Kim, have extensive training).


1. Tell us about your background and how you got interested in nutrition.

I grew up with a mother that was always interested in consuming only unprocessed foods and natural healing. She never wanted me to go on antibiotics (and to date I’ve only taken them twice!), was into whole food supplements and green powders, and there was never, ever any sodas or candy in the house. She was my first nutrition guru!

After I graduated from Georgetown University I moved to Sydney, Australia, where I met a woman that ran a holistic detox center. She changed my life and my perspective of food forever! I saved the money I made working there for a year, and spent the next 3 years backpacking around the world across over 50 countries. I immersed myself in indigenous cultures across India, China, Peru, Mozambique, etc., and learned about these various cultures’ perspectives of nutrition and healing foods (while mostly living in a tent!).

I am just finishing my CCN degree (Certified Clinical Nutritionist), and am a Certified Nutrition Specialist. I have also studied and/or visited with The Ann Wigmore Natural Healing Institute, Dr. Jubb’s Longevity Center, The Natural Detox Temple (Aus), and with many of the other top experts and institutes focusing on cellular nutrition.

2. What is your food philosophy?

My philosophy is that food is the most powerful medicine there is. Our very constitution is constantly being built from the food we put in our mouths. Therefore, we must always strive to put the highest quality, most natural food into our bodies. I always stress eating organic food, and getting a high percentage of raw food in the diet. Raw foods have their own enzymes intact, to allow our energy to be used for detoxifying and assimilative functions, rather than the arduous process of digesting heavier, cooked foods, which can take up to 50% of our energy. Enzymes, vitamins, and other precious compounds are heat sensitive and destroyed with cooking. Of the billions of species on earth, humans are the only one that puts their food under fire and cooks it!

I believe that our dietary choices can often outweigh genetic predispositions. To paraphrase T. Colin Campbell, phD of Cornell University who speared The Cornell-Oxford-China Study, the most comprehensive nutrition study ever conducted, what we put in our mouths is the most significant factor in preventing disease. I highly recommend that everyone should read the book on this study by the way, which highlights Dr. Campbell’s decades long research revealing over 8,000 significant correlations between the consumption of animal protein (not just fat) and disease.

3. How has alternative medicine changed your life?

Since I’ve changed my lifestyle to focus on natural and raw foods and ongoing cellular cleansing, every single aspect of my life has changed. I have a very demanding schedule, and though I sleep less than I did in prior years I am full of energy. I have not taken any medication, so much as an aspirin, in at least 6 or 7 years. With a clean body, my mind is more clear and focused, and I am accomplishing many goals in a short amount of time with my high energy. I feel very positive and well…happy! Because of the impact of my lifestyle!

By the way, I know that I am growing younger, as I continue to put the most regenerative foods in my body, and have better skin, hair, and a better body (without living at the gym or obsessing over calories) than at any other time in my life!

4. How might alternative medicine be used to treat chronic diseases and other health conditions (How might we use it in the clinical setting)?

When I got into this lifestyle, I was amazed to learn about the Hippocrates Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida (inspired by the teachings of Dr. Ann Wigmore) which treats many people with cancer, successfully, with raw food and cleansing. Kris Carr, the popular author of Crazy Sexy Cancer is a cancer survivor that “healed” herself at this institute by choosing this path instead of chemotherapy.

I think many in the allopathic community would not believe that it would be possible to reverse cancer and diseases like MS with raw food and other alternative medicine modalities, but I have met many such people.

The allopathic community has been trained to focus only on research studies conducted by the Scientific Method, and these are not the methods that are often used in alternative medicine and alternative healing modalities. That does not make them less valid, it means that they use different systems. The Ayurvedic or Chinese doctors in India 3000 years ago certainly did not use the Scientific Method!

These other systems treat the body and all its organs as one holistic entity, and look to the cause, rather than treating a specific localized symptom. These medication-free systems do not leaving toxic residue in the body the way synthetic drugs can. I hope that the traditional Western medical community will one day look into these alternative medicine and nutrition modalities with sincere seriousness one day.

5. What are your top 3 superfoods?

Well there is a lot of emphasis on the next best thing that was discovered in the jungles of the Amazon or the Himalayan mountains. While I get excited about some of that stuff, I think most people need to focus on the “everyday” superfoods to get the most benefit.

1. Greens: Packed with minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, chlorophyll and amino acids, this is my number one food group.

2. Raw, ripe fruits: Nature’s natural cleansers.

3. Sprouts: The earliest burgeoning of a seed transforming into a mighty tree or plant, sprouts are one of the highest enzyme-packed foods.

6. What advice do you have for dietitians/nutritionists interested in exploring complementary and alternative medicine?

I would immerse in the study at some of the top natural healing institutes in the United States and around the world, which are committed to alternative opinions and have independent books and research to study from that they have not yet been exposed to.

7. What are things we can do to bridge the gap between traditional and alternative viewpoints of nutrition?

I think there are a lot of political issues at the root of the problem. The fact that the powerful and big-budget dairy and meat industries have the ability to lobby and put out information on nutrition through advertising, that the average person will probably consider to be the truth, I find extremely problematic.

There are billions and billions of dollars made each year in the dairy industry, the meat industry and the pharmaceutical industry. I think unless there are more restrictions and evaluations on the people “at the top” that control the food and drug supply, many people won’t be exposed to other options, or even think there are other options, which may not be as profitable as Big Business.

Many of the traditional accepted views of nutrition, such as the old food pyramid, are now seen as outdated. If all the traditional viewpoints of nutrition are correct, then why are we getting sicker and sicker? But I do think that society is becoming more and more open, and I think that dialogue such as this one between Emily and I are important to get more information out there, and inform people that there are different options!

8. Anything else you want to add?

I think dialogue between RD’s and nutritionists is important to have, and no one should think that a particular group of people holds the monopoly on nutritional truth. We should all learn from each other! Arrogance, ego, or dismissing another group’s perspective without investigation only hurts the people that we are all trying to help.


Thanks so much, Kim [check out her blog for more information!], for sharing your perspective on nutrition and for working with me to help increase understanding between alternative and allopathically-trained nutrition professionals! It is my hope that we can continue to work on this relationship in order to provide the most comprehensive nutrition information possible to better prevent and treat diseases.

Thoughts? You know I’d love to hear {read} them!

Have a great weekend everyone!


p.s. an epic event coming on oct 25th! hint: it involves local food and that guy who makes energy bars. you won’t wanna miss this one.


  1. Great interview, loved the information. I've been wanting to learn more info on holistic medicine. Thanks Emily

  2. great interview! I'm heading to her blog right now! I like the fact that she respect traditional medicine instead of seeing it as competition to holistic treatment! :)

  3. Great interview Emily. I am actually glad to say I can finally explain the difference between a nutritionist and an RD. I used to think you weren't allowed to call yourself a nutritionist, no matter what...I swear I learned that somewhere!! I guess I'm wrong. They basically don't have the clinical nutrition and of course the food service, haha.

    HAve a great weekend!

  4. Great interview and thanks to Kim for sharing information about herself. I still do believe in hardcore science, but that is just my belief. I think there is a time and a place for alternative practices, however I do not believe in spending significant money on this. I know people with cancer who have gone more bankrupt spending money on alternative treatments then needed and this significantly impacted their quality of life. I have also seen with the pediatric cancer population toxic levels of supplements given to children by their parents in an effort to heal them. I just don't think there is enough research and recommendations out there, and parent education to have this be safe in cases for children. Parents really want the best for their children in those cases and it is sad to see a child ill from too many supplements. That's not to say that it shouldn't be used, but there needs to be education and I do think research is important. There is a reason it is refered to as complementary, sometimes Western medicine is needed.

    I did study some of this in China and even at a TCM (traditional chinese medicine) hospital they said they have some conditions and situations where the patients are sent to a Western hospital since the traditional healing is just not working. I think that in those cases people need to be accepting of Western medicine and not just focus on things that are natural/holistic medicine. I guess working in the pediatric population I have seen of and heard some very interesting things that I do not find appropriate for children, mostly reading labels on supplements and giving children large doses, even larger than the adult serving listed on the bottle.

    So, I do think it is great to have someone with real training and expertise like Kim getting the information out and helping people because there are many out there who use the term nutritionist, who have no background in nutrition, and are just trying to make a quick buck off someone looking for a quick fix. That is where my frustration lies. This is an area where there are many working who have no real idea about this. So thanks for letting me rant about my frustrations and thanks to Kim for this great interview.

  5. Kim is so pretty! I want to buy her skin products and do yoga poses in a subway. I thought her quote about growing younger was reassuring; I wish I could be 24 forever. I, too, love sprouts!

  6. Great post. Very powerful information. I def agree with food is the best medicine philosophy. It is hard to express that sometimes in an industry (RD) driven by western science. Check out this video.
    It is one of my favorite videos, it's worth the 20 minutes. I go to it when ever I feel like I am getting sucked to deep into the science world. I Think there are correlations between your post today and creativity.

    The 25th post is going to be exciting and fun!!! Can't wait. The salad will be raw!Haha.


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