Medical nutrition therapy can help you recover from chronic illness and lead a happier, healthier, more active lifestyle.
How Medical Nutrition Therapy Works
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is a therapeutic approach to managing chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. MNT has also been shown to be effective in the management of gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis, and even cancer. Anyone with a condition that is likely to improve through optimized nutrition can benefit from medical nutrition therapy.
The treatment aims to reduce the symptoms of your condition through a highly personalized diet, including a meal plan. Aside from reducing symptoms of the disease, MNT can also prevent it from progressing further and causing additional health complications.
Based on Science and Professional Input
Medical nutrition therapy is based on science and years of medical research that have allowed us to understand the relationship between health outcomes, nutrition, and diet. As a therapeutic approach, it reaches far beyond nutrition education. Whilst nutrition education offers basic information to improve your diet, MNT aims to treat medical conditions.
To get started with medical nutrition therapy, patients require the help of a registered dietary nutritionist (RDN). The RDN will work closely with you to analyze how your current diet influences your condition and what can be done to improve your health problems.
A Multi-Step Approach
Optimizing nutrition is a highly personal undertaking. However, the process follows several steps that are identical for each patient:
- Nutrition assessment and diagnosis
- Nutritional goal setting
- Care plan with specific interventions
- Regular reviews
At the foundation of every successful MNT treatment lies a comprehensive nutrition assessment. Expect your RDN to ask plenty of questions about your dietary habits. They may ask you what you eat and when and may also want to know how your diet makes you feel.
Based on this assessment, the RDN will form a diagnosis. They may identify foods that worsen your condition by triggering symptoms immediately. Other foods may lead to long-term health complications, even though they are not yet causing symptoms.
The RDN will share their diagnosis with you. In the next step, you will set nutritional goals. For many people, nutritional goals include weight loss or weight management. Others may want to limit certain foods or exclude them from their diet altogether.
The next step in the process is a care plan. If nutritional goals are the finish line, the care plan defines your mile markers showing you the path toward the finish line. Your RDN may also suggest specific nutritional interventions, depending on the condition you would like to treat.
Regular progress reviews and follow-up appointments are another key part of MNT. During those appointments, you will review your condition and your care plan with your health professional. The goal is to identify what is working for you and whether any part of the plan needs to be adjusted or optimized further.
Which Conditions Can Be Treated With Medical Nutrition Therapy?
MNT can be beneficial for a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and gastrointestinal problems.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are perhaps the most common conditions for which MNT is prescribed. In both types of this chronic disease, blood sugar levels are consistently too high which can lead to a range of long-term complications.
Common diabetes side effects of untreated or badly managed diabetes include poor circulation and nerve damage as well as vision problems. Some diabetes patients are also at risk of heart disease, stroke, or kidney disease. MNT can help control diabetes and prevent these side effects from developing.
MNY for Cancer Patients
Poor appetite is one of the most common consequences of chemotherapy and other cancer medications. Moreover, radiation therapy may burn the stomach lining and make eating painful.
That is why MNT is prescribed to cancer patients to minimize unwanted weight loss and prevent malnutrition. Where diabetes patients need to manage and limit their calorie intake, cancer patients may be encouraged to drink high-calorie nutritional shakes. An RDN treating a cancer patient may also choose foods that are high in protein or fat whilst being easy to eat and digest.
Addressing Gastrointestinal Problems Through MNT
Medical nutrition therapy is an effective treatment for several digestive problems such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowls syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease.
Any of those conditions can make it harder for the body to absorb nutrients and remove toxins. Chronic inflammation, malnutrition, and weight loss may result from these illnesses. Optimizing your diet not only works to prevent these complications, but it can also help address the condition itself.
For many IBS sufferers, elimination therapy is extremely useful. This approach helps identify so-called trigger foods which can then be removed from the diet to avoid repeated bouts of IBS.
How to Access MNT
Medical nutrition therapy is commonly prescribed by doctors or hospitals for patients with conditions that warrant optimized nutrition based on medical evidence. The treatment itself can be delivered in a hospital setting or as outpatient therapy.
There is no set treatment time for MNT. In many cases, patients continue to receive nutritional counseling until the underlying condition has been resolved. Saying that, it is common for the treatment to be adjusted regularly, depending on the patient’s condition. MNT can also be used as a method of prevention of certain illnesses. In that case, the goal may be different, but the steps of the treatment remain largely identical.
Medical nutrition therapy is a research-based approach that is effective in the treatment, management, and prevention of a wide range of diseases. If you feel that you may benefit from optimized nutrition, reach out to your physician or talk to our team to find out more.