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Stacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answeredMedical nutrition can be added to nearly any treatment to aid in recovery, prevent further complications and improve someone's quality of life. Depending on the specific type of medical condition they are treating, nutritional supplements combine proteins, vitamins, minerals or even probiotics in a calorie-controlled substance. For instance, the medical nutrition PediaSure, which is a complete and balanced pediatric formula that can be taken as a supplement (to promote weight gain) or as the sole source of nutrition (to promote a healthy diet), contains daily servings of protein, carbohydrates and fat, vitamins A through K and minerals, such as calcium. Similarly, the nutritional supplement Peptamen, which treats gastrointestinal disorders, is made of whey protein with additional antioxidants, MCT (an oil that promotes fat absorption) and peptides that aid in nutritional absorption and improve digestive functioning.
Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) provided by registered dietitians (RDs) is a plan of care that focuses on the assessment, nutrition diagnosis, treatment plan, evaluation and continued monitoring of a patient/client. It involves the RD recommending a customized plan of food therapy that improves health outcomes and in many cases decreases the need for medications.
MNT has been shown to improve the health and quality of life for individuals with health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases and pulmonary disease.
One example of medical nutrition therapy would be recommending soluble fiber to achieve moderate decreases in LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Another example would be using the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) diet to decrease blood pressure. The DASH plan contains foods low in sodium and high in potassium, magnesium and calcium. A decreased intake of sodium and an increased intake of these specific minerals have been shown to help regulate fluid and help mediate the blood pressure in an individual. There are many other documented ways that food therapy can improve health.
For a customized MNT plan, visit a registered dietitian. You can find an RD in your area by going to http://www.eatright.org.