What is Nutrition Therapy?

Americans are suffering from chronic health problems such as obesity, hypertension, joint pain, depression, fatigue, poor immune response, infertility, and many more related to food choices, lifestyle habits, and the environment. Nutritional insufficiencies and environmental stress can often be corrected to restore optimal nutritional health before serious health problems emerge. The term used to manage medical conditions through nutritional intervention is Medical Nutrition Therapy or MNT.

Many medical conditions occur due to stress and poor dietary habits. Nutrition therapy is the science of proper diet, lifestyle strategies and therapeutic nutrient intervention to correct nutritional insufficiencies, promote optimal health, and prevent, manage, or correct medical problems. Complimentary nutrition therapy optimizes nutritional health in order to enhance medical care and treatment. Functional lab testing is often a part of nutrition therapy and is helpful in determining nutrient insufficiencies.

Many medical conditions and illnesses can be managed, improved, and even corrected by a specific diet. Medical Nutrition Therapy can enhance the medical treatment of certain health conditions and diseases. For instance, people undergoing surgery can recover sooner if they have the adequate nutritional support for healing. MNT is not a cure for terminal illness but in some cases can contribute to the success of the medical treatment and the quality of life for the terminally ill.

For conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension or high blood pressure, and non-insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus most physicians will recommend that the individual try to reverse the problem with diet and lifestyle changes before prescribing medication or other forms of treatment. There are situations where an individual is unable to make dietary changes necessary to manage their condition or the illness is caused by genetic inheritance or injury. In these cases dietary management alone is not sufficient to correct the damaging effects of the illness. These cases require medication or other medical intervention to control the problem. Always consult with a medical specialist for the healthiest treatment options available.

Who can benefit from Nutrition Therapy?

If you answer YES to any of the following questions, you can benefit from nutrition therapy.

  • Do you have fatigue, low energy, or trouble concentrating?
  • Do you have trouble losing or maintaining your weight?
  • Are you pregnant or trying to conceive?
  • Are you planning to have surgery?
  • Do you have dry skin, depression, and/or joint pain?
  • Do you suffer from indigestion, heartburn, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or other digestive problems?
  • Has your doctor recommended nutrition therapy for a medical condition?
  • Are you taking more than one prescription medication to treat one or more medical conditions?
  • Are you confused about what diet is best for you?
  • Are you taking nutritional supplements but unsure about the quality, effectiveness or health benefits?
  • Would you like to improve your health and well-being through diet, nutrition, and a healthier lifestyle?
  • Do you want to improve your stamina and physical performance? 

Some specific conditions that are successfully treated with nutrition therapy:

  • Obesity and weight loss
  • Hypertension
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Nutrition in pregnancy
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Arthritis/joint pain
  • Food allergies
  • Weight maintenance
  • Athletic performance
  • Disordered eating    
  • Dry skin/skin conditions
  • Fatigue
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Triglycerides
  • Insulin resistance
  • Diabetes
  • PCOS
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Thyroid disease
  • Wound healing 

What can nutrition therapy do for my medical condition?

Of course healthy eating can prevent many medical conditions and illness. This section is primarily for those people interested in Medical Nutrition Therapy options for diagnosed medical conditions. Some of the more common medical conditions treated with diet are described.

Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes a chronic inflammation in the synovial membranes of multiple joints in the body. It attacks the lining of the joints and often produces severe pain and inflammation, joint disfigurement, and loss of joint movement and function. Extra-articular involvement including rheumatoid nodules, vasculitis, eye inflammation, neurologic dysfunction, cardiopulmonary disease, lymphadenopathy, and splenomegaly are manifestations of the disease. Although the usual disease course is chronic, some patients will spontaneously enter a remission. 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Optimal nutritional health can correct the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), reduce the progression of the disease, and improve the outcome of medical therapy. To better understand what nutrition therapy can do for those with PCOS, 

Cosmetic Surgery
Optimal nutritional health enhances the results of cosmetic surgery before, during, and after the procedure. Cosmetic surgery can be one of the most positive things an individual will do to improve physical appearance, health and self esteem.
Nutritional health is an important component for maximizing the physical and the biological results for any surgical procedure. Cosmetic surgery is no exception. Proper food intake, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle habits can positively affect the procedure before, during, and after surgery as well as the long term maintenance and care.

Diabetes Mellitus Insulin Dependent
A metabolic disorder associated with major abnormalities in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism. IDDM usually occurs in persons under 30 years of age. These persons do not synthesize insulin and are susceptible to ketoacidosis (acidity in the body due to ketones in the blood). They are always treated with insulin. Approximately 10% of persons with Diabetes Mellitus are insulin dependent. 

Diabetes Mellitus Non Insulin Dependent
A metabolic disorder associated with major abnormalities in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism. NIDDM usually occurs in persons over 40 years of age and is characterized by insulin resistance (diminished tissue sensitivity to insulin) and impaired beta-cell function (delayed or inadequate insulin release). Many people with NIDDM can control their blood sugar by nutrition and lifestyle changes, others require supplemental insulin or oral hypoglycemic therapy. Approximately 40% of persons with NIDDM may eventually require insulin injections to achieve glycemic control.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
Gestational Diabetes is defined as carbohydrate intolerance of variable severity during pregnancy. Gestational Diabetes is a serious complication of pregnancy that requires Medical Nutrition Therapy intervention. People with GDM have a sixty per cent chance of developing NIDDM later in life.

High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is an imbalance of elevated of cholesterol in the blood typically with high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. High cholesterol, along with 2 or more risk factors of coronary heart disease, is very dangerous. One of the major risk factors of coronary heart disease (CHD) is elevated serum cholesterol and more important low serum HDL cholesterol. This condition typically exists with accumulation of excess body fat and sedentary lifestyle. The modification of diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits remain the cornerstone of efforts to reduce total serum cholesterol concentrations. Some people cannot be able to correct high cholesterol with diet alone and require prescription medication. 

Hypertriglyceridemia
Triglyceride is fat (lipid) in the body. Broken down the term Hypertriglyceridemia means: hyper (too much) triglyceride (fat) emia (in the blood) Elevated triglycleride levels. Other fats in the blood may also be elevated, specifically Very Low Density Lipoproteins VLDL which contain triglycerides and other fats called chylomicrons. Elevated triglyceride can be seen with elevated or normal cholesterol. The most common nutrition-related causes for hypertriglyceridemia are obesity, diabetes, and alcoholism. Hypertriglyceridemia can be a side effect to other physical conditions and to some medications.

Hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure is a high risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease, heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and renal disease.  Approximately 50 million people have high blood pressure and thus are at increase risk for these conditions.  Treatment of this condition through diet, exercise, and, in some cases medication, is vital. In overweight individual, weight reduction is recommended to assist in lowering blood pressure.  Decreasing sodium intake in salt sensitive individuals can contribute to lowering elevated blood pressure.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract involving digestion, motility, and absorption of food and nutrients.  It is also known as spastic colon, irritable colon syndrome and mucous colitis. Irritable bowel syndrome usually begins in early adulthood and tends to persist throughout life. 

Prenatal Nutrition
The best time to focus on nutrition and health is before pregnancy to insure optimal nutritional status for both the health of the mother and embryonic and fetal growth.  Nutritional deficiencies, some medications, drugs, and alcohol could cause detrimental effects to the embryo and later in the fetus. Medical nutrition therapy is essential for women considered to be high risk.  For normal pregnancy group classes for expectant mothers will increase the awareness regarding the importance of good nutrition in the development of a healthy baby and a healthy mother.

What can I expect from Nutritional Therapy?

You will receive:

  • A personalized nutrition analysis and meal plan including calories, protein, fat, carbohydrate and specific foods for your health goals, activity needs, age, size, and food preferences.
  • Educational materials and tools to help you in the pursuit of your goals.
  • You will learn:
  • The art of healthy eating, how to choose foods to maximize energy, simple menu planning and recipes that fit into your busy life.
  • How to support your nutrient needs while taking certain classes of drugs. 
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