Illness and Recovery can often be managed by planning a better diet. This course shows you how different foods relate to different illnesses.
The practice of therapeutic nutrition involves the provision of nutrients to maintain and/ or restore optimal nutrition and health.
Therapeutic diets may be required as therapy for a disease e.g. coeliac disease or to treat malnutrition arising from low energy and nutrient intakes or due to increased energy and nutrient needs.
A therapeutic diet may be provided orally (through eating/ drinking), enterally (through a tube directly into the gastrointestinal tract or parenterally through the veins of the circulatory system.
LEARN ABOUT MANY DIFFERENT HEALTH PROBLEMS
and THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO WHAT WE EAT
Chewing and swallowing problems (also called dysphagia) can result from diseases such as stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and dementia. The cause of swallowing difficulties must always be investigated by a doctor. If food and liquid cannot be swallowed safely it may be aspirated or drawn into the lungs. As the airways become blocked, the person will begin to choke and this choking fit may be fatal for frail, elderly people. The aspiration of food and fluid into the lungs can also cause aspiration pneumonia.
Once the cause of swallowing difficulties has been investigated, people may be advised to follow a specific diet. Examples include a minced diet where all food is minced for easier chewing or swallowing and a pureed diet, where a blender or food processor to puree foods to the consistency of baby food, while soft and smooth foods, such as applesauce, puddings and eggs can be served in their normal form. Thickened fluids may be recommended as a remedy to chewing and swallowing problems. Artificial food thickeners are available from the pharmacy while natural thickeners include tapioca, flour and instant potato flakes.
Weight loss and reduced appetite
Unintentional weight loss is a decrease in body weight that is not voluntary. In other words, you did not try to loss the weight by dieting or exercising. There are many causes of unintentional weight loss. Examples include, cancer, depression, drugs such as chemotherapy drugs, Eating disorders, loss of appetite and malnutrition. Painful mouth ulcers or a loss of teeth may also prevent someone eating normally and result in weight loss. Weight loss and poor oral intake can have a serious impact on a person’s clinical outcome following a surgical procedure. Causing reduced immune function, poor wound healing and thus, longer hospital stays.
Here are some tips to help people with poor appetite and weight loss, you may think of others-
- Try to eat small and frequent meals and snacks, for example, every 2 hours. Suitable snacks include cheese and crackers, sandwiches, savory biscuits, ready made desserts such as yogurt, rice pudding and crème caramel.
- Take advantage of times when you do feel well, and have a larger meal then. Many people have a better appetite first thing in the morning, when they are well rested.
- If your doctor allows, have a small glass of wine or beer during a meal. It may help to stimulate your appetite
- During meals, sip only small amounts because drinking may make you feel full. If you want to have more than just a small amount to drink, have it 30-60 minutes before or after a meal.
- Fortify foods e.g. with milk powder and foods high in fats and sugars.
Example Assignment From the Course
1) Looking back over your food diary, discuss how your diet meets the main nutritional recommendations and highlight any possible nutritional deficiencies. Write between 150 and 200 words.
2) What tips could you offer to someone suffering from nausea/ reduced appetite to help them to increase their nutritional intake? Write around 150 to 200 words.
3) Compare the cost and nutritional composition of 3 different build up drinks. You may find this information by looking at the labels of products available in the local chemist/ supermarket or health food store or by searching for information on the manufacturer’s website on the internet. Alternatively you can often find the nutritional composition of particular products by searching on the internet (you should spend about 1 hour on this task. Submit your results in a table showing the brand, the composition and the cost.
4) Report back on your set task, list the ingredients used in your blended drink and your reasons for including them. Include information on the drinks nutritional composition. If you subsequently made up the product, comment on how it tasted/ looked. Do you think the product would be acceptable to someone with a poor appetite. How much of the product do you think a patient could drink each day?
You can see from these examples that understanding therapeutic nutrition can be a very involved and complex subject. Even the experts don't know it all; and they can spend their whole lives studying the subject.
This course is a great starting point. It will give you a foundation; and armed with that foundation you can better understand what you read, hear and observe; building your knowledge and expertise of nutrition as you move forward.