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Nutrition, Lifestyle Pave the Road to Health

By Natalia Diaz - nutriADN
Head of Medical Education


Natalia Diaz By Natalia Diaz | Head of Medical Education - Wed, 03/08/2023 - 16:00

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It is currently estimated that 422 million people worldwide suffer from type 2 diabetes. The rate of chronic diseases continues to increase and it is often due to poor diet quality, sleep deprivation and physical inactivity. Because of this, it is vital to understand the role of nutrition in medical teams to prevent further progression of chronic disease. 

When we talk about chronic diseases, we think of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer's disease, among others. In Mexico, healthcare usually begins once the patient's disease has advanced to a degree that generates a decrease in the patient's quality of life. Usually, the patient visits his doctor, a medication is prescribed and he is sent home. In this context, the patient usually does not understand how the disease progresses due to his lifestyle. 

Without any lifestyle education, the patient continues to live a lifestyle that increases the risk of new chronic diseases through a sedentary lifestyle, a diet rich in processed foods, and lack of sleep. The consequences of undernutrition in patients have significant implications for healthcare providers, worsen the disease's complications, and increase the need for multiple medical therapies and surgery. 

Nutrition and lifestyle modifications are effective interventions in tackling many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. However, healthcare professionals are not sufficiently trained in nutrition and lifestyle education. During four years of medical school, most students spend fewer than 20 hours on nutrition., which is disproportionate to its health benefits for patients. To address this gap, nutritionists are now included in the team of various medical specialties. 

Like doctors, nutritionists may specialize in gynecology, gastroenterology, and oncology,among other specialties, allowing them to improve patient outcomes and adherence to treatment in different clinical scenarios. 

A multidisciplinary approach to medicine refers to a group of healthcare professionals with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose: better patient outcomes. 

It has been discovered that a change toward an anti-inflammatory diet, where vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds take a leading role in the daily diet, the prescription of eight to nine hours of sleep each night and physical exercise have the power to prevent, treat and reverse chronic conditions. In a nutrition consultation, the patient will learn: 

● How food may be a driver of his or her disease and how he or she could create healthier food choices to reverse disease. 

● Get to know which physiological imbalances may be driving his or her disease (sleep deprivation or high sugar intake may be driving his or her insulin resistance, creating a cascade progression to type 2 diabetes in the future).

● Get to know the necessary tools to prevent further progression (For example, starting each meal with roasted vegetables or creating a sleep schedule). 

● Get to know which nutrient deficiencies are being created as a consequence of recurrent medication use (for example, B12 deficiency is created because of long term use of diabetes medication (metformin), causing tingling in hands and feet). 

● How various nutrient prescriptions (Vitamin D, Omega 3, among others) influence greatly remission of a disease. 

Furthermore, the inclusion of a nutritionist in a medical team decreases the risk that the patient will have to undergo invasive treatments, such as surgeries. 

For example, a patient with chronic reflux goes to the nutritionist to change her eating habits. After creating healthier eating choices and the use of dietary supplements, the patient manages to reduce her acid reflux recurrence by 98%, preventing the need to perform an endoscopy. 

Second example: a cancer patient is staying at a hospital. During his visit, he receives nutrition therapy and counseling. He manages to maintain his muscle mass due to his adequate food intake. The maintenance of muscle mass during chemotherapy decreases his risk of mortality, hospital acquired infections and risk of cancer relapse. 

In addition, nutritionists can carry out diagnostic tests to find the root cause of the patient's disease and correct it through nutrition therapy, achieving a deeper diagnosis and decreasing treatment duration. 

An example of this is the Healthy Baby genetic test, which allows us to know which genes influence the risk of pregnancy complications and provides us with detailed instructions to prevent these complications. 

For example, MTHFR gene polymorphisms could be diagnosed through this test and may be treated by the replacement of folic acid with methylfolate, and the inclusion of B-Complex rich foods (dark green, leafy vegetables) and choline-rich foods (eggs and legumes), supporting a healthy methylation process in the patient. 

This simple treatment prevents recurrent pregnancy loss, autism spectrum disorder, preterm birth and gestational induced hypertension. 

In conclusion, nutrition therapy is essential in the multidisciplinary team of any medical specialty because it achieves the prevention of the progress of various pathologies and improves patients’ quality of life. Beyond this, nutrition therapy reduces treatment costs and time. 

Our nutrition team at nutriADN specializes in gastroenterology, women's health (gynecology) and nephrology. 

Photo by:   Natalia Diaz

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