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Emphasis on nutrition provides an exciting addition to dental hygiene career

Dec. 15, 2011
As a hygienist, Kris Dowling, RDHAP, BA, has long embraced the notion that she is a prevention specialist. As a holistic foods chef and educator, her awareness of the relevance of prevention is extending beyond the mouth.
By Kris Dowling, RDHAP, BA, Certified Natural Chef/Nutrition Educator
It’s almost impossible to turn on the evening news without hearing about the “obesity and/or diabetic epidemic” in America. How can this be when laboratories have created “non-fat,” “non-caloric,” “no-sugar added” edible products? American’s should be svelte, and healthy! But wait. We’re not. Even those who appear to be “normal” size, and healthy can struggle with energy lows, mental cloudiness, and general malaise. The outer package may be harboring some bad news on the inside.I considered myself one of those people a couple of years ago. While surfing the Internet one day, I discovered a woman offering a holistic food cleanse. After reading several of her glowing testimonials, and checking out her credentials, I decided the worst that could happen is I learn something about myself. I had been feeling sluggish and was planning my wedding, which was five months away. Excited as I was to get started, my inner skeptic was alive and well.Little did I know this would be the beginning of a new and exciting addition to my career as a dental hygienist. As challenging as this “new” way of eating was (and can be), I learned how to really listen to my body after eating these new, whole foods. I learned how to choose the right kinds of foods and got some recipes to try. By the end of two weeks, my energy was soaring, my joint pain was diminishing, and the fog that occupied my mind, slowly but surely lifted … as did my skepticism.Fast-forward two years and I am now a Certified Natural Foods Chef/Nutrition Educator, and Health Coach in training. The more I learn and apply to my own life, the more aware I become as to how the nutrients (or lack thereof) we put into our bodies greatly affects our health, energy, and spirit. People with diabetes and cardiovascular disease are advised to be on specific diets in order to prevent catastrophic health issues. We’re talking life or death here! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out there is something to this nutrition/health connection.
As a dental hygienist, I’ve long embraced the notion that I am a prevention specialist. As a holistic foods chef and educator, my awareness of the relevance of prevention is extending beyond the mouth. I’ve recently become a member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and I look forward to collaborating with other like-minded professionals. By increasing our knowledge of the oral-systemic link, we can offer our patients more concrete information as to how to prevent disease.
A current journey of mine is working as a personal holistic foods chef for a man with cancer. I have the pleasure of cooking in his family home and stocking the refrigerator and freezer with nutrient dense foods specific to cancer therapy. Nutrition is but one facet of this treatment, and it can greatly help with the cancer client’s well-being, especially when chemotherapy treatments zap their appetite, as nutrients are crucial to cellular healing. I do not claim to take the place of a physician or licensed dietician, and I make that clear to anyone I work with or give advice to. My role is to work with a client’s licensed healthcare providers as needed.Holistic nutrition and the benefits of eating our way to health are being heard about more and more. One popular television personality, Dr. Oz, is shedding light on this. Because he is a current “authority,” America is beginning to listen. No laboratory can create what Mother Nature already provides. Our body systems are interconnected and eating well for prevention is so much less expensive and so much more enjoyable than medical treatment after the disease strikes.
Kris Dowling, RDHAP, BA, Certified Natural Chef/Nutrition Educator, graduated from Bauman College, Berkeley, Calif., in February, 2011. She is currently studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.