Many things are similar between the terms health and nutrition. Health is an all-encompassing term, which includes nutrition. Part of being healthy is proper nutrition; without proper nutrition, the effects can be detrimental. With good nutrition, human body can heal itself from many different illnesses and restore to health. There are numerous positive effects to balanced diet and nutrition. Many diseases can be prevented by consuming an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables, and fiber. The primary focus of the paper is to discuss three main aspects of good nutrition namely 1) Recommended Dietary Allowances, 2) Nutritional assessment is to identify clients at risk for malnutrition and 3) Health and disease risks related to malnutrition.
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Recommended Dietary Allowances
Most Americans today are aware that a nutritious diet that is low in fat will lead to a longer and healthier life. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) is the daily amounts of essential nutrients that will prevent deficiencies in most healthy people. To help us stay healthy we should eat a variety of foods, maintain ideal weight, avoid too much fat, and eat foods with enough starch and fiber. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Agriculture releases the Dietary guidelines every five years. A major emphasis of the guidelines is to encourage Americans to choose the recommended number of daily servings from each of the five different food groups; Bread, Meat, Vegetable, Fruit and Dairy.
A new MyPlate program emphasizes the same concept by including fruit, vegetable, grains, protein foods, and dairy groups in nutritious food. The website “ ChooseMyPlate. gov” is full of information to help consumers choose healthier diets. The site provides various resources and tools for assessment and education. The Myplate web site has specific recommendations of good nutrition for children, aged, and pregnant women.
The earlier pyramid program has six levels in the Healthy Eating and each level has a group of foods recommended in your daily diet. The First Group includes breads and cereals. You can have maximum 10 to 12 helpings a day, Grains form the basis of this level. The Second and Third Groups include vegetables and fruits. They are a source of fiber and vitamins. The health pyramid recommends at least 4 servings a day. The Fourth Group consists of dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt. The pyramid recommends 3 servings per day from this group. The Fifth Group is foods that provide vitamins, minerals and protein. Some of the foods recommended are meat, poultry, eggs and fish. You can also include dry fruits, nuts and beans; have at least 2 servings per day.
The last group, Group six is placed at the top in the pyramid. These food items are high in sugar and fat; it is wise to consume these foods sparingly. They recommend limits for total fat intake and saturated fat consumption. The guidelines stress the difference between saturated fats, which tend to raise blood cholesterol and unsaturated fats, which do not. Foods high in saturated fats include high-fat dairy products such as cheese, whole milk and ice cream as well as processed meats. A smarter choice would include choosing foods with unsaturated fat such as fish, nuts, olives, avocados and vegetable oils. The pyramid also teaches us to avoid a lot of sugary foods, added sugars and sugary beverages. More than one third of calories in the average American diets come from solid fats and added sugars, but it contributes little in nutrients (Dietary Guidelines, 2010). The food guide pyramid plays an important role in health education. It includes a wide variety of foods to provide a healthy range of nutrients that are needed daily.
A nutritional assessment is an essential part of an initial assessment in good diet and nutrition. The purpose of a nutritional assessment is to identify clients at risk for malnutrition and those with poor nutritional status. In a continuously growing population, malnutrition is one of the most common and most undiagnosed problems. Malnutrition is not only the indicator of existing medical and socio-economical problems, but can also be a cause of physiological and psychological dysfunctions. The nursing nutritional assessment includes taking weight and height measurements, calculating body mass index (BMI), and establishing the current nutritional status of the patient. The most widely used and extensively validated screening tool used by dieticians, and can be utilized by nurses, is the Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA). Other suitable tools for evaluating the nutritional status of people are weight loss within the last six months, the Subjective Global Assessment (SGA), laboratory tests, and collateral history from family or caregivers. An evidenced based nutrition assessment provides valuable information about the current nutritional status of an individual as well as serves as a prognostic tool for potential health changes related to malnutrition. For the nursing assessment of nutritional status, Jarvis has detailed guidelines that focus on nutrition (Forbes and Watt, 2011).
Health and Disease Risks in Poor Diet and Malnutrition
All too frequently, we hear about obesity in the United States. Obesity is when a person has too much body fat, which can be as a result of poor diet and nutrition. If someone is not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, eats sugary and/or fatty foods, and does not get enough exercise, their body will begin to store excess fat. They will develop digestive tracts that are ill equipped to absorb vital nutrients. Food choices are very important, one must consume no more than the daily recommended amounts for their age and weight group and one must ensure that the intake of food includes grain, legume, meat vegetables, fruits and dairy and bread items. If one is not physically active, he or she must reduce the intake of calories, or else they may result in obesity. One must be aware of if and how much obese they are based on their BMI, calculated using height and weight. Drinking recommended amonts of water based on weight, level of activity and climate every day (2 to 3 L per day for 70 Kg body weight, moderate activity and temperate climate) can help flush out toxins and impurities from your system; it is also a great way to combat hunger. Many people mistake thirst for hunger. The goal of medical nutrition therapy is to promote healthy eating habits not only to keep of waistlines in check but our heart, bones and muscles strong; giving our bodies the strength and endurance necessary to face the challenges of each day. By not closely monitoring your diet, someone can easily become a victim of obesity and all of the health risks associated with it.
Crohn’s Disease affecting digestion and absorption in the bowels is an inflammatory bowel disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells of the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause severe pain in the abdominal area, due to inflammation of the bowels. Because of this, many individuals eliminate certain food from their diets, which can cause nutritional deficiencies. People with Crohn’s disease may lack essential daily vitamins, such as vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Medical researchers have identified several vitamins and minerals are known for helping patients combat the disease such as vitamin D and cod liver oil. Vitamin D can help patients with the disease because of its cell binding properties that can act as a defense against the bacteria that wrecks havoc on the immune system. Zinc helps to repair damaged cells caused from the disease. Folic acid is important because some of the drugs used to treat the disease also drop folic acid levels such as sulfasalazine. Vitamin B-12 promotes endurance and energy, which can be lacking when the symptom of fatigue sets in. Following a diet is a very important part of a patient recovery process and continued remission. Common problem items for a individual with Crohn’s disease are foods such as dairy products and high fiber foods, greasy or fried foods, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and beans all tend to cause a symptom flare up. Patients are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, although water is the best, it is best advisable to stay away from caffeine and alcohol, and eat three small meals a day. Since protein promotes healing, eating chicken and fish is a good way for to acquire protein and healthy omega-3s. Papayas, they are easily digested and provide high vitamin content and chick peas are a good alternative to beans. Some other healthy choices include avocado, butter lettuce, roasted red pepper, rice and smooth nut butters (Harding, A, n. d.) Patients with Crohn’s disease should be sure they are nutritionally healthy by frequently visiting their Nutritionist, keeping a food journal and/or taking supplements.
Diabetes is one of America’s most troubling medical issues, with over 23. 6 million children and adults in the United States currently diagnosed with it. Food and lifestyle choices are fundamental to diabetes care. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin enables cells to absorb glucose in order to turn it into energy. In individuals with diabetes, the body either fails to properly respond to its own insulin, does not make enough insulin, or both. This causes glucose to accumulate in the blood, often leading to various complications. Diabetic diet plans differ from person to person due to our daily nutritional needs and type of diabetes a person suffers. Type 1 diabetes always require insulin treatment, the main focus is to find a balance between the food intake and insulin. Type 2 diet focuses on controlling weight in order to improve the body’s ability to utilize insulin. Type 2 diabetics can be controlled through proper diet and exercise alone. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes generally are put on a 1, 500 to 1, 800 calorie diet per day to promote weight loss and then maintenance of ideal body weight. Gestational Diabetes Diet focuses on adequate energy and nutrients to support both mother’s body and the growing baby while maintaining stable blood glucose levels for the pregnant mother. The diet goal is to eat balanced, portion controlled meals that will allow our body to stay on an even keel throughout the day as the components of each meal hit the system. Eating every two to three hours is best, five to six small meals per day, and light exercise after each meal will help kick start the digestive system and prevent a spike in sugar levels. One tool available for people with diabetes is the “ Diabetes Food Pyramid”, a pyramid that contains six sections, each dedicated to a food group that a person with diabetes must integrate into their diet. The first section is the biggest and lies at the bottom of the pyramid, one must have six servings a day. This section is carbohydrates the main source of energy and glucose; it includes beans, grains, peas, cereals, and pastas. The next section contains fruits and vegetables. This section recommends eating whole fruits like oranges and grapefruits, other fruits recommended are strawberries, peaches, pears, or apples. A person must have at least two-four servings of fruits. Vegetable choices can be cabbage, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, or cauliflower; the recommended serving for a person is three-five per day. The next section is milk and meat (beef/chicken/fish) eggs and cheese can be included as well. It is recommended to have two-three servings a day. The last section lies on the top of the pyramid; this section includes fats, oils, and sweets. There is no recommended portion size per day in this section, but one has to avoid potato chips, candy and cookies. If we consume appropriate servings from each food category at each meal, they will break down at different rates, delivering a steady trickle of sugar into the bloodstream and keeping the energy level stable. Because there is no cure to diabetes, education is key in preventing individuals from developing diabetes.
Keeping a healthy daily diet can sound tough, but with education it can be manageable. For instance knowing optimal daily calorie intake, differences between good and bad fats, and an understanding of healthy foods and where you can find vitamins. The benefits of good nutrition are numerous. Besides helping you maintain a healthy weight, good nutrition is essential for the body to function optimally for a lifetime. Eating the right amount and kinds of food everyday is a tremendous contribution of nutrition to prevention of diseases. Medical Nutritional Therapy, along with other prescribed treatments, increases the individual’s ability to manage these sometimes-debilitating diseases.
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