Why was the IPTN started?

The IPTN is a not-for-profit multidisciplinary collaboration between researchers, academics, physicians, pharmacists and allied health professionals. It was started in 2016 to advance the idea of personalized, therapeutic nutrition and foster a ‘food first’ culture in Canada for treating chronic diseases.

In our first year, we have worked to close the research-practice gap for health professionals by translating evidence into educational programs to support practice change. We also advocate for therapeutic nutrition as a fundamental and required aspect of patient care.

Adoption of a ‘food first’ approach to treating chronic diseases has the potential to reduce unnecessary suffering and health care costs, and dramatically improve health outcomes and quality of life for Canadians.

The IPTN is a timely initiative, motivated by the following realities:

In 2015, 3 million Canadians were living with type 2 diabetes, and another 5.1 million were pre-diabetic. By 2020, diabetes related costs in Canada will exceed $16B annually. A recent study from Alberta has forecast that anyone born after 1997 will have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. For First Nations, the rate is 80%.
In recent years, nutritional science has been influenced by dogma, special interests, hype and misinformation. The public needs help discerning the scientific quality of nutritional information, and health professionals are challenged to keep up with new research and practices.
If more people understood how foundational the link between eating and health was, they wouldn’t wait to be diagnosed with a chronic disease before making a change. Therapeutic nutrition can have an impact on people staying healthy (preventing disease), getting better (recovering from metabolic dysfunction), and living well with illness or disability. Cost-savings from early intervention for those at risk for metabolic dysfunction could be a game-changer for our health care system.
Food and nutrition are the foundation of health and have been used across time and cultures to effectively treat medical conditions. There are many clinical applications for therapeutic nutrition: metabolic disorders, inflammatory conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, psychological conditions, cancer etc. In our society, the value of medication is often overstated by the media and health care professionals, and usually does not correct the underlying cause of the problem. Pharmacological therapy is costly to our health care system, and may also be a burden to patients.
The more we learn about what genetic and metabolic factors determine why some people respond to a certain type of diet and lifestyle intervention while others do not, the more powerful a tool personalized therapeutic nutrition can become. The IPTN and our partners will translate research into educational programs for healthcare professionals to change practice and promote therapeutic nutrition as a fundamental and required aspect of patient care. The IPTN is affiliated with the Personalized Medicine Initiative (PMI), a University of British Columbia-based umbrella organization of personalized medicine stakeholders and resources in B.C.

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