Published on 13 Mar 2024

How Nutrition Therapy Can Improve Your Health: HealthifyMe

Modern medicine usually focuses on treating people when they have a disease or show signs of illness. The treatment, especially for chronic conditions, mainly involves using pharmaceuticals or surgery to reduce symptoms rather than addressing the underlying issues. Nutritional therapy takes a different approach, often following a functional medicine approach. Its goal is to identify the root causes and reasons behind the symptoms. For instance, instead of prescribing a statin for high cholesterol, nutrition therapists aim to understand why cholesterol is high and work on improving it through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

Nutritional therapy is highly beneficial for achieving specific goals, managing chronic health conditions in conjunction with medical treatment, or establishing lasting healthy habits. It goes beyond just weight loss, including a range of health conditions that can benefit from nutritional interventions. This article will explore how nutrition therapy works and its role in addressing common medical conditions. 

What is Nutrition Therapy?

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) or nutritional therapy involves using personalised diets, supplements, and healthy eating practices to achieve health goals. It is an evidence-based approach tailored to treat specific medical conditions. Instead of providing a one-size-fits-all solution for a particular diagnosis, MNT considers the entire individual and not just a set of isolated symptoms. 

In contrast to conventional care, which often focuses solely on symptom suppression without addressing the root cause, nutrition therapy aims to eliminate symptoms by identifying and addressing the underlying issues. This practice involves nutrition counselling provided by a qualified nutritionist, dietitian, or nutritional therapist to promote a healthy lifestyle. 

Nutrition counselling offers personalised advice and guidance to individuals at risk due to factors like health conditions, dietary habits, medication usage, or chronic illnesses. It includes:

  • Assessing current eating patterns, dietary habits, and other relevant factors affecting nutrition.
  • Helping the individual effectively implement the devised nutrition plan.
  • Creating a detailed written plan that outlines suitable nutrition interventions tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • Planning for continuous follow-up care and evaluating the achievement of established healthcare objectives.

Summary

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) or nutritional therapy utilises personalised diets, supplements, and healthy eating practices for specific health goals. It’s an evidence-based approach to treating medical conditions by considering the whole individual, not just symptoms. Unlike conventional care that focuses on symptom suppression, nutrition therapy aims to eliminate symptoms by identifying and addressing root causes. It involves nutrition counselling from qualified professionals for personalised advice, assessing eating patterns, aiding plan implementation, creating tailored interventions, and planning ongoing follow-up care to evaluate healthcare goals.

How Nutrition Therapy Works

Nutrition therapy relies on the connections between diet, nutrition, and health outcomes. It focuses on using diet to manage medical conditions, aiming to address existing issues and reduce the risk of complications. Nutritional therapy is a way of healing that believes eating whole, natural foods keeps one healthy. It uses food to prevent and fix common issues like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression.

According to nutrition therapy, for food to have therapeutic benefits, it should be nutrient-dense. This assessment involves examining the nutrients and anti-nutrients present in the foods you consume. Nutrients include macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, probiotics), and fibre from whole, unprocessed sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and raw nuts/seeds. 

Anti-nutrients lack biological necessity and are not considered “food,” such as high fructose corn sweeteners, sugars, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, refined flour products, preservatives, and additives. Some essential nutrients become anti-nutrients in excess. For example, salt, when it exceeds the recommended upper limit, becomes an anti-nutrient.

The basics of nutrition therapy are:

  • Patient-centred: Focuses on the individual, not just the disease. It tailors programs to meet unique client needs, considering genetic, internal (mind, body, spirit), and external (physical, social) factors.
  • Preventative: Promotes positive vitality, not just the absence of disease. It utilises tests and treatments to optimise metabolic function, prevent poor health, and enhance the quality of life.
  • Integrative: Combines traditional Western medicine with alternative or integrative approaches, emphasising prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise.
  • Investigative: Takes time to understand clients’ history, physiology, and lifestyle, addressing symptoms by identifying underlying causes for more profound and lasting results.
  • Holistic: Treats the body as a connected whole, recognising the importance of these connections in health and disease.
  • Safe: Programs have minimal or no side effects.
  • Participatory: Respects, empowers, educates, and encourages people to engage in the healing process actively.

Summary

Nutrition therapy works by understanding the links between diet, nutrition, and health outcomes, focusing on managing medical conditions and preventing complications. It promotes the therapeutic benefits of nutrient-dense foods, evaluating nutrients and anti-nutrients. It deems anti-nutrients like refined sugars and additives unnecessary. The approach is patient-centred, preventative, integrative, investigative, holistic, safe, and participatory, emphasising individual needs and fostering active involvement in healing.

Benefits of Nutrition Therapy

While every nutrition therapy program varies, the general approach involves understanding your medical conditions, preferences, budget concerns, and health goals. Despite the variations, the core aim is to enhance your health and wellness in multiple aspects. The benefits include:

Achieving a Healthy Weight

A diet plan for achieving a healthy weight is not a one-size-fits-all journey, but good nutrition plays a crucial role. Nutrition therapy raises awareness about the proper calorie intake for your activity level and teaches you to achieve an appropriate nutrient balance. 

Older adults often face metabolic and appetite changes, risking unintentional weight loss and malnutrition. If you’re struggling with maintaining a healthy weight, a HealthifyMe nutritionist can assist in creating a gradual, safe plan for weight management. 

Manage and Prevent Chronic Conditions

Making positive changes in your eating habits, alongside lifestyle adjustments, reduces the risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions. If you already have a chronic disease, nutrition therapy can alleviate some physical symptoms and potentially reverse the condition. For instance, if you have PCOS, adopting dietary changes that lead to weight loss may help normalise your insulin resistivity.

Improves Overall Well-being

Enhancing the quality of your diet not only lowers disease risk but also improves energy levels, improves sleep, enhances digestion, uplifts mood, and sharpens thinking. Combining a nutrient-rich diet with healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, social connections, and avoiding smoking enables optimal bodily function.

Developing Sustainable and Long-term Healthy Habits

Nutrition therapy counselling aims to guide you in making gradual and personalised improvements to your eating habits. The HealthifyMe app ensures practical and manageable lifestyle changes, providing tools and knowledge to make better choices. Over time, guided by HealthifyMe coaches, you can develop good choices that gradually transform into lasting, healthy habits for a lifetime.

Summary

Nutrition therapy programs, tailored to individual needs, aim to enhance health and wellness. Benefits include achieving a healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic conditions, and potentially reversing existing ailments. Improved overall well-being includes better energy levels, better sleep, enhanced digestion, improved mood, and sharpened thinking. The approach fosters sustainable and long-term healthy habits, with HealthifyMe’s app and coaches guiding gradual improvements and lasting transformations.

Who Should Take Nutrition Therapy?

People turn to nutritional therapy for various reasons and health conditions. Here are a few examples, along with details on how it can assist each condition.

Allergies and Intolerances 

Nutritional therapy can help you adjust your diet to manage allergies or intolerances. With guidance from a HealthifyMe nutritionist, you can make dietary changes that allow you to enjoy food without discomfort or reactions.

Supporting Women’s Health

Women’s nutritional requirements differ from men’s due to hormonal variations. During life stages like pregnancy or menopause, nutritional therapy proves invaluable for fertility, managing menopausal symptoms, and maintaining a healthy hormone balance. 

Conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), affecting 7-10% of young women, involve hormonal imbalances, particularly in insulin regulation. HealthifyMe nutritionists can create a personalised food plan to specifically address PCOS symptoms, providing relief and promoting overall well-being.

Nutritious and Healthy Eating for Children 

Understanding how children’s nutritional needs evolve as they grow is crucial for their well-being. Whether you’re starting to wean an infant or encouraging schoolchildren to eat healthily, nutrition therapy can provide valuable insights. Considering factors like dietary preferences, allergies, and intolerances, therapy will tailor advice to your family’s needs. 

If necessary, a personalised food plan can be created. Additionally, the HealthifyMe app offers healthy recipes to support good nutrition practices at home further.

Diabetes

Nutrition therapy helps in managing diabetes, aiding in blood sugar control and reducing complications. Customised diet plans teach carb counting and portion control, which are crucial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. 

Untreated diabetes may lead to various complications, but nutrition therapy shows promise in long-term blood sugar control. It’s particularly beneficial for gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Cancer

Nutrition therapy supports individuals undergoing cancer treatment, addressing common side effects like poor appetite and malnutrition resulting from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Nutritionists may suggest high-calorie shakes and easily digestible foods to meet nutrient needs during treatment. Using HealthifyMe can further simplify a nutritious diet tailored to your treatment pattern.

Digestive Troubles

Nutrition therapy helps ease symptoms and improve nutrient absorption for digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease and inflammatory colitis. Tailored diet plans, including supervised elimination diets, identify trigger foods, enhancing the overall quality of life. 

Weight Loss

Nutrition therapy is a practical approach to weight loss with personalised dietary plans from HealthifyMe’s Registered dietitians. It ensures healthy weight loss while maintaining proper nutrient intake. With features like recommended food portions, meal plans, exercise routines, and trackers, HealthifyMe’s intuitive AI integration actively addresses various weight loss necessities.

Heart Disease

For individuals with heart disease, nutrition therapy aims to reduce risk factors like LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure. HealthifyMe’s pro coaches suggest diets low in saturated fat and sodium while emphasising fruits, vegetables, omega-3s, and plant-based foods. 

Summary

People seek nutritional therapy to find tailored solutions for specific conditions. For allergies and intolerances, nutritionists help adjust diets, allowing enjoyable meals without discomfort. Women’s health, especially during pregnancy or menopause, benefits from nutritional therapy, addressing fertility, menopausal symptoms, and hormonal balance. Kids’ nutrition needs are addressed through personalised plans supported by the HealthifyMe app’s recipe suggestions. Diabetes management involves customised diet plans for stable blood sugar levels, while cancer patients benefit from nutrition therapy during treatment. Weight loss becomes easy with personalised nutrition plans and HealthifyMe’s intuitive AI features. For heart health, nutrition therapy focuses on reducing risk factors, emphasising heart-healthy foods.

Optimising Your Nutritional Therapy with HealthifyMe’s Expert Tools

HealthifyMe’s user-friendly AI-driven platform makes nutrition therapy accessible and convenient. You can easily integrate online nutrition counselling into your routine with personalised meal plans and real-time guidance. Additionally, automatically track your calories with Snap on the HealthifyMe App by capturing photos.

HealthifyMe conducts a comprehensive assessment in nutrition therapy, covering:

  • Body measurements, including BMI
  • Blood tests and checking metabolic panel
  • Examination of eating habits, portion sizes, and cooking methods
  • Assessment of changes in smell or taste
  • Evaluation of nutrition status and health conditions
  • Consideration of swallowing difficulties and aspiration risk
  • Identification of food intolerances and taste preferences
  • Estimation of calorie intake

AI-powered nutritionist Ria, drawing insights from millions of diet and workout logs, customises recommendations based on your preferences, dietary restrictions, and health goals. While your coaches offer guidance, Ria ensures you stay on track by monitoring your schedule, blood sugar levels, daily meals (captured through photos), activity levels, and nutritional preferences. This approach offers precise and convenient control over your nutritional health.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Nutrition Therapy is an effective solution to many lifestyle diseases, intolerances and allergies. A major point to keep in mind is that since this is a more holistic approach, the time taken for results to show will be longer. You cannot expect results to be as quick as when you take medicines. However, nutrition therapy is a sustainable long-term option that has no long-term side effects thereby making it the healthier solution.

The Final Word

Through evidence-based approaches, nutrition therapy tailors interventions to individual needs, considering holistic well-being. This patient-centric, preventative, integrative, investigative, holistic, safe, and participatory approach fosters lasting, healthy habits. From controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes to supporting cancer treatment, preventing heart disease, promoting weight loss, and managing digestive ailments, nutrition therapy offers personalised guidance and support. Enhanced by HealthifyMe’s expert tools, nutrition therapy empowers individuals to achieve optimal health outcomes through informed dietary choices and lifestyle modifications.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Research Sources

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services | Nutrition Therapy

Medical Nutrition Therapy: What Is It, Uses, Examples, and More

Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) Toolkit

Nutrition Therapy for Adults With Diabetes or Prediabetes: A Consensus Report

Diet Therapy and Public Health

New Approaches to Nutritional Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is nutritional therapy?

A: Nutritional Therapy is a proven way to improve health by making personalised changes to your diet and lifestyle. It involves checking your nutrition status and providing the right foods or nutrients to treat conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It can be as simple as adjusting your diet or, in some cases, using methods like intravenous or tube feeding.

Q: What is nutritional therapy used for?

A: If you’re dealing with a chronic health issue, suspected food allergy, or recovering from a severe condition like cancer, a stroke, or a heart attack, nutritional therapy can help ease discomfort. If you’re facing challenges like an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or binge-eating disorder, the guidance of a nutrition professional can also be beneficial.

Q: Is medical nutrition therapy the same for all patients?

A: Medical nutrition therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is highly individualised, taking into account a person’s unique health condition, nutritional needs, and overall well-being. The therapy is adaptable to different medical conditions, recognising that each individual may have specific dietary requirements and challenges.

Q: How does nutritional therapy differ from conventional medicine?

A: In conventional medicine, patients with the same disease typically receive standardised treatments. In contrast, nutritional therapy embraces a highly individualised approach, tailoring programs to meet the specific needs of each client. This personalised approach considers genetic factors, as well as internal aspects such as mind, body, and spirit, as well as external elements like the physical and social environment.

Q: What conditions can benefit from nutritional therapy?

A: Nutritional therapy can offer support for cardiovascular problems, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, and neurological disorders, including mood conditions like depression and anxiety. Allergies, weight management, cancer support, chronic fatigue, skin issues, and musculoskeletal conditions can also benefit from personalised nutritional interventions.

Q: What are some common misconceptions about nutritional therapy?

A: Contrary to the belief that it’s only for weight loss, nutritional therapy addresses various health issues. Importantly, it doesn’t replace conventional medicine but can complement medical treatments to support overall health.

Q: Can nutritional therapy be used alongside conventional medical treatments?

A: Yes, nutritional therapy can complement conventional medical treatments. This collaborative strategy offers a more well-rounded path to wellness.

Q: What role does diet play in nutritional therapy?

A: The emphasis on diet in nutritional therapy helps address nutrient imbalances and manage various chronic conditions. By tailoring dietary recommendations to individual needs, a nutritional therapy diet promotes overall well-being.

Q: How long does it typically take to see results from nutritional therapy?

A: The time it takes to see results from nutritional therapy depends on individual factors, the targeted health condition, and how well the person is following dietary changes. You may notice some differences after a few weeks to months.

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