Practitioner Q&A – Alina Tierney
Alina’s main areas of expertise are in mould illness, Lyme disease and co-infections, MCAS and histamine intolerance, gut and autoimmune disorders.
Alina Tierney is a qualified Nutritionist with a decade of experience working with chronic complex cases. Read her Q&A below.
What brought you to nutrition?
When I went travelling in my twenties, I became fascinated with all the new foods I encountered. I researched any new food I came across, why it is good for us, what nutrients it has, their health benefits, etc. I became so passionate about this that I decided to study food science. It was then that I came across nutritional therapy. Although I was more interested in food science, I realised that nutritional therapy is something that suited me better due to my empathic nature and the fact that it involves the direct application of knowledge to help individuals.
Once I become a Nutritional Therapist, I had some health issues. I managed to overcome these relatively quickly by applying the knowledge I gained. This further confirmed the importance that dietary and lifestyle strategies can play in addressing health issues.
What are your areas of interest in health and nutrition?
In my final year of university, I started a 1-year internship with a private integrative day hospital. We were dealing with many complex chronic cases. Since then, I have been working with chronic complex cases in which any body system can be involved, but I have been working more and more with mould-related cases for the past few years.
What can clients expect from a consultation with you?
When suffering from a chronic illness for many years, there can be a lot of fear, especially around the idea that they will never get well. I want my clients to feel they are listened to and understood and although it requires patience and commitment, I’m there for them. I will do everything in my remit to help them.
I work using the Functional Medicine model, which focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. I will take a full health history in the initial consultation and often use functional testing to further assess potential triggers. Detailed protocols that may include dietary, lifestyle and supplement recommendations are provided after consultations.
What is your favourite health and nutrition book?
I don’t really have one. There are so many out there and we can learn something new and applicable from so many.
If I really have to choose one, then it would be “Why zebras don’t get ulcers” by Robert Sapolsky, which highlights the impact stress can have on health. It is not a nutrition book; however, it is not just nutrition that can have an impact on health, but our lifestyle too.
Favourite on-the-go snack?
My favourite snack would be a boiled egg with olives and tomatoes, but the easiest on-the-go snack would be nuts.
Favourite form of movement?
Rock climbing. For me, rock climbing is a form of meditation. It requires being present in that moment, focusing on each move to keep you safe. It activates so many parts of your body at the same time, your brain, your muscle, your stress response, etc. On top of everything, it is fully rewarding; you feel you have achieved so much when you manage to make a hard move and get to the top safely.
When you feel a cold coming on you…
Take high doses of vitamin C, zinc and anything else relevant that I have in my cupboard for about 2-3 days. It usually works well.
One lesson you will take from the covid-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has been challenging for many, but one thing that has been probably clear for many of us is the importance of being healthy and having a strong immune system to be able to overcome such a challenge. Put simply, from a nutritional perspective, look after yourself so your body can be ready for the unexpected.