Diet therapy and nutrition

Custom made diet therapy

Ever since the early ages people have always been aware that by eating properly, they positively affect various diseases or mitigate their effects. Therefore, it has not come as a surprise that some dietary rules for ill people were found in ancient civilizations, and the evolution of dietary knowledge can be traced throughout centuries.

Proper nutrition with regular physical activity is an important part of the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Numerous studies have shown that proper nutrition can significantly influence the development of diseases. It can delay the development of chronic complications and improve the quality of life. A clinical dietitian/nutritionist plays an important role in this process by actively collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

All the people with health issues should have a specifically planned diet based on to their diagnosis and according to their personal preferences. This is why establishing trust between the dietitian and the patient is of crucial importance.

Each patient, due to a particular diagnosis and/or nutritional status, requires an individualized approach in order to provide him/her with the best possible nutritional plan. The factors to be taken into consideration while creating such a plan are age (infants, young children, adults), as well as some other special conditions such as pregnancy, postpartum period and breastfeeding. In other words, patient's diet has to correspond to the biological needs of the body and the type and degree of the disease. It is clear that in such cases, when selecting food, attention should be paid to its type, composition, suitability, energy value and method of preparation, as well as to the number of meals and when they are scheduled. Such diseases important to mention that require this type of plan is type 1 and type 2 diabetes, for which diet is the first step in treatment. Type 1 diabetes occurs in young people and requires insulin therapy from the beginning, while patients with type 2 diabetes are generally elderly people who are in 80-90% of cases overweight. The numbers of meals and the amount of carbohydrates which should be taken are determined depending on the type of diabetes, results of anthropological measurements and prescribed therapy.

There are various metabolic disorders symptoms that accompany them, therefore treatments and dietary requirements vary. Human metabolism is an organized system that provides us with energy. Its goal is to make full use of the macronutrients we bring into our body. When aforementioned disorders occur, the clinical dietitian/nutritionist plays an important role in the preparation of the diet plan with precisely defined intake of protein, fat and carbohydrates in accordance with the biochemical results, patient’s age, as well as anthropological and psychological state of the patient.

The role of dietitians in the implementation of scientifically proven recommendations for patients with chronic non-communicable diseases:

1. Awareness of the importance and role of a proper diet adapted to particular conditions and diseases, in accordance with the latest guidelines of worldwide, European and Croatian health organizations

2. Educating people with normal body weight about a varied and balanced diet, and overweight or obese people about the same type of diet that may help them achieve adequate weight loss

3. Individually adjust macronutrient intake with the overall daily energy intake

4. Educate people about different types of carbohydrates including fibers, glycemic index and glycemic load

5. Educate people about different types of protein and fat and their proper intake

6. Encourage the intake of foods that are nutritionally rich in active substances and also play a cardio protective role

7. In case of proven deficiency of vitamins and minerals, educate people about the best sources of food and/or nutritional supplements to take. Explain the possible interactions between foods, medicines and herbal supplements

8. Implementation of certain functional foods as an integral part of the daily diet with the aim of reducing the risks of diseases associated with aging and therefore increasing healthy life expectancy

9. Encourage the pursuit of custom made physical activity plan

10. Encourage keeping a food diary in order to evaluate and provide nutritional analysis so that dietary therapy counseling can be adjusted even more properly.

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