What is medical nutrition?

Deborah Beauvais
Nutrition & Dietetics
Individuals with a variety of conditions and illnesses can improve their health and quality of life by receiving medical nutrition therapy. Medical Nutrition Therapy is an essential component of comprehensive health care. During an MNT intervention, registered dietitians (RDs) counsel clients on behavioral and lifestyle changes required to impact long-term eating habits and health. 

Medical Nutrition Therapy includes:
  1. Performing a comprehensive nutrition assessment determining the nutrition diagnosis;
  2. Planning and implementing a nutrition intervention using evidence-based nutrition practice guidelines;
  3. Monitoring and evaluating an individual’s progress over subsequent visits with the RD.
RDs provide MNT and other nutrition services for a variety of diseases and conditions including:
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: hypertension, dyslipidemia, congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational
  • Disease Prevention: general wellness
  • GI Disorders: celiac disease, cirrhosis, Crohn’s disease
  • Immunocompromise: food allergy, HIV/AIDS
  • Nutritional Support: oral, enteral, parenteral
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics: infant/child feeding, failure-to-thrive, inborn errors of metabolism
  • Pulmonary Disease: COPD
  • Renal Disease: insufficiency, chronic failure, transplantation
  • Weight Management: overweight/obesity, bariatric surgery, eating disorders
  • Women’s Health: pregnancy, osteoporosis, anemia
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Medical nutrition therapy is scientific evidenced based diet therapy to promote health and prevent chronic disease. A registered dietitian (RD) is a nutrition expert qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy. A RD conducts a nutrition assessment including medical history, food allergies and preferences and current health status to prescribe changes to the diet, nutrition education and behavior change counseling for improved health and optimal nutrition.
Lona Sandon
Nutrition & Dietetics
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is the application of the science of food and nutrition to the prevention and treatment of acute or chronic disease. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines MNT as "the use of specific nutrition services to treat an illness, injury, or condition." It is a two-fold process that involves the screening and assessment of an individuals nutrition status using dietary intake, lab values, body size measures, and physical examination data. It also involves providing appropriate treatment that includes dietary therapy, behavior and nutrition counseling and education, and nutritional supplements as needed. MNT may require the use of nutrient rich whole food sources, specialized formulas, or dietary supplements depending on the illness and condition being treated. Registered dietitians are the only health professionals specifically trained in providing MNT. Other health professionals may have some knowledge of nutrition therapy but lack the specific training in assessment, intervention, monitoring and evaluation of MNT. 

Most chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, kidney disease, food sensitivities and allergies, cancers and many others benefit from MNT. Ask your insurance company or physician for a referral to a registered dietitian if you have questions about how nutrition can help you. Or go to and click on "Find a Registered Dietitian."
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics
Medical nutrition is how foods affect the body from a clinical standpoint. For example, medical nutrition therapy reviews how specific foods affect a certain disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, or gastrointestinal disorders. A registered dietitian might prescribe a low fat, low cholesterol diet as part of a medical nutrition therapy plan for a patient with heart disease. Find an RD in your area at 
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
Medical nutrition is known as MNT (Medical Nutrition Therapy). This is when diet is used to help treat certain illnesses or disease states such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Please speak with a dietitian to find out how you can modify your diet to improve your health.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Medical nutrition helps you deal nutritionally with medical conditions. A registered dietitian can help you manage diseases through diet. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and other elevated blood lipid levels, diabetes, and IBS and Crohn's can be helped through diet modification. 

Continue Learning about Nutrition

Change Your Future by Eating Better
Change Your Future by Eating Better
When Nicholas Cage played Cris Johnson in the 2007 movie Next, he saved the world with his ability to see into the future—two minutes ahead to be prec...
Read More
What is nutritional counseling?
Michelle Carlson, NASM Elite TrainerMichelle Carlson, NASM Elite Trainer
Nutritional counseling allows nutrition to truly be approached individually. A lot of nutrition plan...
More Answers
7 “Health Foods” That Are Ruining Your Diet
7 “Health Foods” That Are Ruining Your Diet7 “Health Foods” That Are Ruining Your Diet7 “Health Foods” That Are Ruining Your Diet7 “Health Foods” That Are Ruining Your Diet
These surprising picks may be sabotaging your weight loss plan.
Start Slideshow
What's the Difference Between Refined Carbohydrates and Slow Sugars?
What's the Difference Between Refined Carbohydrates and Slow Sugars?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.