There is often some confusion regarding the professional roles of different experts in the field of nutrition. It is often difficult for us to understand the different roles and competencies between nutritionists and endocrinologists.
When faced with common situations related, above all, to weight, the question arises as to which professional we should go to and what capabilities each one of them has. For example, we have gained weight for almost no apparent reason, where should we go?
What causes a hormonal problem? We are obese, how can we lose weight and maintain the results obtained? We want to follow a healthy eating plan, who can help us?
What is an endocrinologist and what diseases does it treat, beyond obesity
A endocrinologist is a specialized doctor in diseases of hormones, metabolism and nutritional problems. Before becoming an endocrinologist, he has to follow a long and complex path that begins with a degree in Medicine.
Once this phase is over, they have to complete a training system, the MIR in Endocrinology and Nutrition, which usually lasts about three years. At the end of the residency, you will obtain the specialist medical degree in Endocrinology and Nutrition.
The vision of the endocrine is very broad because his work covers problems of the endocrine system; metabolism disturbances; and nutritional problems. In particular, he is a specialist doctor in the study and treatment of diseases that affect the endocrine system.
It is a complex system of interactions determined by the endocrine glands that, through the production of hormones, exert effects on the tissues, organs and glands, managing to regulate many vital functions of the organism such as growth, development and metabolism.
The role of hormones It is crucial in many situations in which the patient cannot lose weight and the endocrinologist, as a metabolism specialist, is the figure that can investigate and solve the problem.
Specifically, and as detailed by the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), the endocrinologist has been trained to diagnose and treat problems such as:
- metabolic: type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension or osteoporosis, among others.
- hormonal and glandular: menopause, infertility, thyroid diseases, short stature, cancer of the glands, etc.
- nutritional: obesity, malnutrition, helps to provide nutritional support in situations of illness after surgery or cancer, for example.
It may happen that a healthy diet or a particular pattern are not enough to solve the problem but that appropriate pharmacological therapies or specific tests are necessary. If there are manifest pathologies or if the diet must be combined with some medications, the endocrine will help us.
Due to its broad vision, it also carries out research aimed at understanding the functioning of the human body and understanding how certain diseases affect it.
The functions of the nutritionist-dietician
A nutritionist is a university graduate of the Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, from the branch of Health Sciences, which usually lasts four years. He not only treats healthy people but also prepares diets that are tailored to the needs of people, to their medical problems.
Despite having regulated degree studies and the fact that it is recognized as a health profession in Spain, it is included in a minority in the public health system.
What can a nutritionist do for us? As detailed by Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsthis health professional helps us in nutritional and dietary approach to all diseases that need it and intervenes in all the physiological stages that need it:
- prescribe a diet to lose or gain weight: it will teach us to eat healthily and appropriately to our needs.
- teach to eat welldetailing how nutrients act in our body.
- Help interpret labels nutrition of food.
- plan meals and make healthy recipes.
- treat and prevent diseases through diet (from cardiovascular pathologies to hypertension or diabetes, among others).
- advise on the nutrition during pregnancypostpartum and lactation.
- Design a nutritional plan in case you want to improve sports performance.
Nutritionists, therefore, and according to the General Council of Official Colleges of Dietitians-Nutritionists, teach, investigate, value, guide and advise. His profession implies food and nutritional education in any of the fields where he can exercise it. But, unlike the endocrinologist, he cannot prescribe medications or drugs.
The joint work between the two professionals is key to dealing with many disorders because the treatment of different diseases related to diet requires a multidisciplinary approach.
It is very important, for example, that the endocrinologist, once possible metabolic alterations have been ruled out, direct the person to a nutritionist who assesses the appropriate nutritional treatment for him.
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