Therapeutic nutrition is concerned with the nutritional requirements of patients suffering from different diseases and prescribing the right type of diets for them. The objectives of diet therapy are as follows:
The correction of the existing dietary deficiencies and to maintain the patient in good nutritional state.
Formulation of the diet to meet the needs of the patient taking into consideration his food habits.
Education of the patient regarding the need for adherence to the prescribed diet.
Diet therapy in most instances is not a remedy in itself but is a measure which supplements or makes the medical or surgical treatment more effective.
Factors to be Considered in Planning Therapeutic Diets
1. The underlying disease conditions which require a change in the diet.
2. The possible duration of the disease.
3. The factors in the diet which must be altered to overcome these conditions.
4. The patient's tolerance for food by mouth.
5. The normal diet may be modified to
6. Provide change in consistency as in fluid and soft diets.
7. Increase or decrease the energy value.
8. Include greater or lesser amounts of one or more nutrients, for example, high protein, low sodium, etc.
9. Provide foods bland in flavour.
Modification of Diets in Different Nutrients
Modifications in diets in diseases may involve changes in different constituents such as
Bland diets, omitting spices and condiments.
Low fibre or high fibre diets.
High protein or low protein diets.
High fat or low fat diets.
High carbohydrate or low carbohydrate diets.
High calorie or low calorie diets.
Low sodium diets.
The types of changes required in the diets in different diseases are:
1. Modification in Carbohydrate Content
High Carbohydrate diet may be indicated in liver diseases and in pre-operative conditions. Restricted Carbohydrate diet is essential in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
2. Modification in Calorie Content
Diets with increased calorie content are required in fever, infections and hyperthyroidism. Low calorie diets are used for the treatment of obesity and heart diseases.
3. Modification in Protein Content
High protein diets are prescribed in protein - calorie malnutrition, and cirrhosis of the liver. Low protein diet may be necessary in nephritis and hepatic coma.
4. Modification in Fat Content
Moderately high fat diet is used in the treatment of severe under-nutrition. Low fat diet is essential in heart diseases, obesity and diseases of the liver.
5. Modification in Mineral Content
High calcium diet is essential in the treatment of rickets and osteomalacia, while a diet restricted in calcium is desirable in kidney stones. Sodium restricted diets are essential in the treatment of hypertension, cardiac failure and kidney diseases.
6. Modification in Fibre Content
Diets rich in fibre are prescribed for the treatment of constipation, while low fibre diets are essential in the treatment of diarrhoea, peptic ulcer and dysentery.