Nutrition Impacts Chronic Health Conditions
March is National Nutrition Month. Nutrition has a great impact on the prevention and prevalence of chronic diseases and illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. According to the American Cancer Society, if Americans ate a healthy, balanced diet that emphasized plant foods and helped maintain a healthy weight, as many as one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented. In addition, the American Heart Association states that a healthy lifestyle – better diet, exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, appropriate weight and not smoking – reduces the risk of death and heart disease by as much as 60 percent. These are tremendous statistics, and are statistics that give a person more control of their health.
Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) Registered Dietitian Beth Samuelson said, “Not only does food fuel our bodies, but some foods can actually provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. You can take greater control of your health through the food choices you make, knowing that some foods can provide specific health benefits. Examples are color-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fortified or enhanced foods and beverages, and also some dietary supplements.”
Samuelson offers dietary consultations to people with a wide range of needs and health concerns, including those with diabetes, heart disease, digestive problems, and gastric bypass surgery patients. Consultations consist of a review of their diet and medical history as well as suggestions regarding meal plan and food modification based on maximizing health.
According to Samuelson, those that may benefit from a dietary consultation include:
• Those with diabetes, cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure.
A dietary consultation can help people know how to safely change eating plans without compromising taste or nutrition.
• Those thinking of having or have had gastric bypass surgery.
Samuelson helps gastric bypass patients learn how to eat again and works with the patient’s physician to develop an eating plan based on the body’s new needs. Gastric bypass patients’ stomachs can only manage small servings, making it a challenge to give the body the right amount of nutrients.
• Those with digestive problems.
Samuelson works with the patient’s physician to help fine-tune their diet so they are not aggravating their condition.
• Those that are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
It’s important to develop an eating plan to get nutrients like folate, especially during the first three months of pregnancy, to lower the newborn’s risk for neural tube or spinal cord defects.
• Those needing guidance for breastfeeding their baby.
When breastfeeding, it’s important to get enough iron, vitamin D, fluoride, and B vitamins. A dietary consultation will analyze eating habits and adjust them to ensure the necessary nutrients are eaten.
• Teenagers having issues with food and eating healthfully.
Samuelson can assist with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and overweight issues.
• Those needing to gain or lose weight.
Samuelson works with people by suggesting additional calorie sources for healthy weight gain or a restricted-calorie eating plan plus regular physical activity for weight loss while still eating favorite foods.
• Those caring for an aging parent.
A dietary consultation can educate caregivers about food or drug interaction, proper hydration, special diets for hypertension and changing taste buds.
• Those wanting to eat smarter.
Samuelson enjoys helping those interested in improving their diet. She helps them sort through misinformation, learn how to read food labels at the grocery store, discover that healthy cooking can be inexpensive, learn how to eat out without ruining an eating plan, and how to resist temptations.
A physician’s referral is necessary to receive a dietary consultation. The cost for a dietary consultation is $16 per 15-minute increment. Dietary consultations can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. According to Samuelson, the average dietary consultation lasts approximately 45 minutes. Health insurance and/or Medicare/Medicaid may cover the cost based on the patient’s health status.
Those interested in more information are encouraged to talk to their local physician or call LRH at 712-336-8785.