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Medical Nutrition

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) includes a wide variety of treatments based on the nutritional status of the patient. It may be useful in treating or controlling heart disease, diabetes, AIDS, cancer, kidney disease and many other health related conditions. The American Dietetic Association itself has mentioned that medical nutrition therapy and lifestyle counseling are integral components of medical treatment. It is not a cure, but can improve the patient's quality of life. Medicine, on the other hand, may need to be initiated simultaneously.

Medical nutrition consists of two types of therapy:

  • Total parenteral nutrition (TPN). In TPN or parenteral treatment, patient get the nutrition via intravenous feeding, therefore it is generally administered in hospital.

  • Enteral nutrition. Enteral nutrition formulas are used when patients are unable to get enough nutrients in their diet. These formulas are taken by mouth or through a feeding tube and are used to provide energy and to form substances needed for normal body functions. The oral liquid form are generally in ready-to-use form. No dilution is needed unless directed by a physician. The preparation should be shook well before opening, and refrigerated after opening. For patients using the powder form of this preparation, the instructions for mixing on the package should be followed carefully. Enteral treatments may be taken at home, or in the hospital, following a doctor's instructions.

MNT  is usually initiated by a qualified physician or the referred dieticians. Dieticians, trained in the science of food and nutrition, provide patients and their caretakers with nutritional services and advice. Dieticians work with medical teams to assess a patient's needs and devise a detailed diet plan that will suit that patient's needs. Dieticians may also provide diet counseling or suggest other changes that will help treat specific disease conditions.

* This information is modified from the article that has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).