Components of a healthy diet | Interview with a Nutritional Therapist

Neal's Yard Remedies

Neal's Yard Remedies

Writer and expert

Our ethos at Neal’s Yard Remedies is based on the belief that inner health and outer beauty should work together in harmony. Last week, we sat down with Nutritional Therapist Magdalena Marvell to discuss all things natural health remedies and how to incorporate supplements into your lifestyle to support a healthy, balanced diet, from the inside out. 

Tell me a little about yourself

My name is Magdalena Marvell, I’m a registered Nutritional Therapist, and I consult from Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Therapy Rooms in Sevenoaks. Though I provide a general nutritional approach, my special interests include gastrointestinal health, hormonal health and family nutrition.

Before discovering nutritional therapy, I worked as a producer in the TV industry, which left me feeling overwhelmed, stressed and fatigued. After making positive changes to my diet and lifestyle, I was inspired to study nutritional therapy at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION). Nutritional therapy offers a personalised, whole-body approach to nutrition and lifestyle medicine, and addresses the potential underlying causes of ill-health, rather than focusing on symptoms.

The focus is always on the individual client. Many chronic conditions, as well as day-to-day fluctuations in health and wellbeing, can be linked to nutrition and lifestyle. Often, people see stark improvements in their health when they implement small changes to their diet. I love that my job provides fulfilment and satisfaction from supporting and helping others reach their goals.

Nutritional therapist Magdalena Marvell

What are the benefits of seeing a qualified nutritionist compared to self-diagnosing?

The nutritionist can offer qualified expertise and knowledge, and an ability to provide personalised dietary advice as well as ongoing guidance and support. A nutritional therapist can recommend the right choice of supplements for the individual, as well as functional tests, and a personalised dietary plan to encourage sustainable lifestyle changes. We also look into drug-nutrient contraindications and drug interactions; not all supplements and nutraceuticals can be taken with prescribed medications such as statins or antidepressants.

In your opinion, what defines a healthy diet? What are the essential elements you always recommend?

A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods and is tailored to meet an individual's specific needs. There is no one size fits all. Essential elements for a healthy diet include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. All of these foods should be eaten in moderation in order to maintain a balanced diet. Additionally, limiting processed, deep fried and sugary foods is important for overall health. Incorporating probiotics foods such as kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut to keep our microbiome healthy is also very important.

"A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods and is tailored to meet an individual's specific needs. There is no one size fits all."

From your practice, how have you seen an optimal diet and personalised supplementation plan benefit your clients? Can you give a couple of examples?

An optimal diet and personalised nutritional supplementation plan can help to improve overall health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, boost energy and mental clarity, and improve the appearance of skin and hair. Personalised nutritional supplementation plans can also help to fill any gaps in nutrition, ensuring that clients are receiving the essential vitamins and minerals they need. For example, a person who suffers from fatigue and tiredness may be deficient in certain micronutrients such as iron, vitamin B12 or magnesium. Controlling blood sugar throughout the day by eating regular meals, incorporating protein, healthy fats, and swapping simple carbohydrates to complex carbohydrates can help to boost the energy levels and provide a more sustainable source of energy.

Cutting up healthy fruits and vegetables

What are your top tips for diet and supplements in your day-to-day life, and do you offer any advice on the best way to take supplements?

If time is limited, I would suggest having a few healthy snacks in your bag or car such as nuts and seeds, which will provide sustainable energy to keep you going until your next meal, and stop you from craving unhealthy foods, such as processed and sugary treats.

When it comes to supplements, I help to assess any deficiencies and recommend the best type and dosage of supplements for an individual's needs. It's important to take supplements at the same time every day, with meals or snacks, and to always follow the recommended dose. I would recommend speaking to the nutritionist first to find out the right supplement for you. Some supplements may interact with medications you are currently taking, or the wrong choice of supplement may aggravate some of the symptoms you have. Supplements can't replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, however they can help us to boost any deficiencies we may have.

How do you evaluate a new client’s nutritional needs?

I evaluate a new client's nutritional needs by taking a detailed nutrition history, medical history and discussing their lifestyle habits, health goals, environmental factors, and any dietary restrictions or allergies. I recommend ordering specific functional tests, such as blood work, stool tests or urine analysis, to assess any underlying nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalances or infections. I sometimes use body measurements such as BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, and body fat percentage to assess overall health and based on these evaluations, I create an individualised nutrition and health optimisation plan that is tailored to meet the client's specific needs such as timeframe, family needs, budget, or religious beliefs.

"I create an individualised nutrition and health optimisation plan that is tailored to meet the client's specific needs such as timeframe, family needs, budget, or religious beliefs."

In your experience, what is the most frequent reason people visit you for?

The reason most people visit me is to improve overall health and wellbeing. This may include addressing specific health concerns such as digestive issues like IBS, IBD, SIBO, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), hormonal imbalances, and fatigue. Additionally, some people may seek nutritional advice for weight management (weight loss, weight gain) sports nutrition, or to increase their energy levels. I receive quite a few enquiries regarding how to improve skin condition and support hair growth and hair thickness.

Is there a particular Neal’s Yard Remedies natural remedy you find yourself recommending most often?

Dandelion leaf is a diuretic and supports liver and kidney detoxification - it removes toxic substances. Angus castus helps to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as irritability, mood swings, headaches, bloating and breast tenderness, as well as improve menopausal symptoms.

In terms of supplements Beauty Oil is great as it contains Omega 3, 6 and 9 and is made of organic seeds and avocado. It helps to improve skin condition but also helps our microbiome to thrive. If the client suffers from fatigue or trouble sleeping, magnesium and vitamin B complex are great for boosting energy levels.

Nutritional Therapist

Finally, how can people book an appointment with you?

Clients can make an appointment directly via Neal’s Yard Remedies in Sevenoaks (01732 456402).

I do offer a 10-minute taster session at Neal’s Yard Remedies, which costs £10 and will evaluate your needs and explain how nutritional intervention can help you. 


  • Initial consultation – £90 (70/75min) includes a detailed personalised health plan and pre-consultation analysis.
  • Follow up consultations – £65 (50min)
  • Package: 1 x initial consultation + 2 x follow up consultations £200 (£20 saving)