WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL THERAPY?
Nutritional therapy is the emerging leader in preventative medicine today. Eight out of ten deaths in this country are the direct result of poor dietary practices which can lead to conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, stroke and in some cases cancer. Many other conditions and symptoms have benefited from the use of nutritional therapy, from joint pain to depression and thyroid disease. In other words, nutritional therapy focuses on the direct correlation between what people eat and their illnesses. Food is a necessary part of life, however research in the early part of the 1900’s shed light on the medical profession as well as the food industry that there are essential dietary elements beyond what is already known about carbohydrates, fat, protein, and minerals. Today we know these substances as vitamins.
Medical nutritional therapy is an integral part of many health-care systems today and is gaining popularity, and for good cause. The goal of nutritional therapy is to help patients learn to manage food and alcohol intake to their maximum health benefit so lengthy hospital stays involving surgery and soaring medical costs can be reduced if not eliminated altogether.
WHO PERFORMS THE PROCEDURE?
Nutritional therapy is generally administered to the patient by a registered dietitian. The dietitian is most commonly referred to by the patient’s existing physician as a supplemental treatment plan to be used for care either at home or in the setting of the hospital recovery patient room with regards to meals and vitamin therapies. A typical setting of a nutritional therapy plan involves facilities such as home care, outpatient care, and long-term care facilities. This process generally involves a dietary assessment with detailed laboratory reports and measurements.
- Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) is therapy that is used for patients who must receive all their nutritional intake intravenously because they cannot or should not get their nutrients through eating. This typically includes a combination of sugar and carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, electrolytes and trace elements which are specific to the patient’s individual assessment. TPN generally is administered for up to twelve hours a day, once a day for up to five times a week.
- Enteral Nutrition formulas are used as food replacement for those patients who have been deficient in receiving all the proper nutrients they need in their diet. These formulas may be administered through a feeding tube or directly by the mouth. These types of treatments may be used in the hospital setting, as well as at home in recovery.
Medical Nutritional Therapy involves nutritional intervention as it relates to a patient’s recovery and healing process. Common areas where this type of treatment may be used are in patients who are undergoing cancer treatments. According to the National Cancer Institute, one out of every three cancer deaths is the direct result of poor nutrition. Medical Nutritional Therapy is vastly important because when a patient’s body is trying to heal, if there is not enough fat and protein being taken into the body, the body will draw from its own internal sources, resulting in malnutrition and oftentimes even death.
The side effects of nutritional therapy are often not an issue, and generally there are very few incidences of negative side effects. However, as with all medically administered treatments, there are a few special cases that should be brought to light. Because intravenous nutrition is often a method physicians will use to boost the survival rate of a patient, it’s benefits far outweigh any associated risks.
Certain patients may need to be monitored for metabolic parameters such as blood glucose, lipids, blood pressure, and body weight to ensure the proper dosage of nutrients is administered. Enteral feedings may make pancreatic conditions worsen and intestinal or stomach problems may inhibit the proper absorption of nutritional therapies. In cases of sever malnutrition, patients have suffered nerve and heart problems from aggressive nutritional therapy. Under the close supervision of a qualified physician, these issues can generally be safeguarded against before they happen.
Most patients have experienced positive side effects from nutritional therapies, such as stronger immune function, healthy body tissues for rebuilding wound injuries, a decreased risk of infection, as well as a general feeling of more strength and increased energy.
Nutritional therapy is a marvel of the medical world. Through the use of intravenous feedings during the surgery and recovery process, morbidity in the medical profession has been dramatically reduced. This type of therapy is gaining in popularity because it addresses health problems that can be treated without the use of expensive drug treatments. Nutritional therapy allows a patient to feel in control of their own health and well-being. The scope of this treatment is far-reaching and the implications of its effectiveness are vast.
In general, medical nutritional therapy strives to enhance the quality of life for patients who are dealing with complex medical issues. This type of therapy often includes counseling either in group or individual sessions to help the patient integrate healthy eating into a regular lifestyle routine, thereby improving the patient’s quality of life.