5 Benefits of Medical Nutrition Therapy

Post date: 9/19/2019

With age, dietary needs can change and shift depending on the state of your health. While maintaining good health is always a top priority, sometimes chronic diseases can creep in. However, you might be surprised to learn there are therapeutic diets which can help treat many chronic diseases. Following a personalized nutrition treatment plan, like Medical Nutrition Therapy, may help you control some symptoms associated with diseases like Type 2 diabetes, COPD, osteoporosis, cancer and more.

In this article, you can find out if MNT is right for you and how Sun Health Wellness can help you create the perfect diet and lifestyle plan to treat and prevent chronic diseases.

What is medical nutrition therapy?

Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) is defined as an evidence-based medical approach to treating certain chronic conditions through the use of an individually-tailored nutrition plan. MNT is provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). While many people are hesitant to change their diet, Medical Nutrition Therapy is a more comprehensive approach, giving you the counseling and feedback you need to successfully meet your dietary needs and prevent or treat chronic disease. You may also hear Medical Nutrition Therapy referred to as ‘nutritional counseling.’

How does medical nutrition therapy work?

MNT typically begins with an initial nutrition assessment using client and medical record data, evidence-based guidelines and professional judgment to determine a nutrition diagnosis and intervention.  Then, together with your nutritionist, you will define what your goals are for your diet. The first visit usually is 60 to 90 minutes.

In follow up visits, your dietitian will monitor and evaluate your progress by reviewing updated labs, medication or health changes, to ensure your goals are being met and your health is optimized.

One thing to always keep in mind with MNT is that it is not meant to replace a doctor’s recommendation for treatment or medication for your specific health condition(s). It is meant to complement the advice given by other members of your health care team. In fact, many health professionals agree that nutrition services are one of the first treatments that individuals should receive to improve conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Your dietitian will work with your health care team to ensure your treatment plan is safe and effective.

What are the benefits of medical nutrition therapy?

There are many advantages associated with MNT. You may see the following benefits when following a specialized diet plan with your dietitian:

1.      Slow or reverse symptoms of chronic disease

Chronic disease can be difficult to manage. However, MNT can slow the progression of your chronic disease and may even reverse or stop some of the symptoms you are experiencing. An example of this can be seen when a person with type 2 diabetes is able to maintain their blood glucose levels in target ranges, they may experience fewer symptoms associated with unmanaged diabetes such as frequent urination or weight gain.

2.      Prevent other diseases from happening in the first place

MNT may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  Also, effective MNT may help reduce onset or progression of painful diabetic neuropathy.

3.      Increase your daily energy and activity levels

Optimizing your nutrition may also increase your overall energy levels, allowing you to focus on other components of your overall health care plan. You may have increased energy levels that allow you to finally go and take that local fitness class you’ve been looking at, or visit with loved ones.

4.      Lose weight

As a result of balanced nutrition, you may also see a reduction in your weight. Many chronic diseases are exacerbated by excess weight so weight loss may be a first-line goal of your nutrition therapy.

5.      Reduce your health care costs

Preventing chronic disease and managing symptoms more efficiently can save you a lot of time and money down the road. It may even save you from having to undergo invasive tests and procedures. For example, if you have heart disease and can lower your cholesterol with an MNT plan, you may not have to undergo an operation to clean or replace your main arteries later on. That will save you the hassle of recovery and the potentially big financial burden that is involved with surgery.

Am I a candidate for medical nutrition therapy?

Many people are candidates for MNT through many stages of life, but older adults can really see a tremendous benefit with utilizing it for their overall health. Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs, as well as most insurance plans, will cover MNT for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and post-kidney transplant. Other insurance providers may cover MNT for other conditions so always check with your insurance provider to verify your coverage. If you have any of the following conditions, you may benefit from MNT provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist near you:

Diabetes

MNT for diabetes is the cornerstone of diabetes management.  To complement MNT, diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) group classes are also beneficial to learn how to manage your diabetes.  Both MNT and DSMES are covered insurance benefits for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Chronic Kidney Disease

If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (stage 3, 4 or 5) and are not on dialysis, your diet may have a direct impact on progression of the disease. MNT can be helpful in determining dietary modifications that are best for you.

What are other common conditions that can benefit from MNT?

People experiencing the following conditions may also benefit from MNT. While these conditions are less frequently covered by insurance, you should check with your insurance plan to verify your own coverage. When these services are not covered by insurance, you may find that registered dietitian nutritionists can provide nutritional counseling for a modest out-of-pocket fee.

Osteoporosis

People with osteoporosis are often recommended to take calcium and vitamin D supplements. However, there are specific foods a dietitian can recommend you eat each day or week to boost your natural intake of these essential vitamins and minerals to improve your bone health.

Cancer

A dietitian can provide guidance on how to minimize symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment therapy or design an anti-inflammatory eating plan to reduce the risk for cancer reoccurrence.

Heart Attack and Heart Disease

Heart attack and coronary heart disease are some of the leading cases of mortality among Americans. Diets to treat these conditions may include foods low in animal fat, processed meat and plentiful vegetables.

Where can I find medical nutrition therapy?

If you experience a chronic illness or want to work to remain active and healthy, you may want to consider a consultation with a dietitian. At Sun Health Wellness, we have registered dietitian nutritionists who will work with you to achieve your goals and improve your health. Contact us today to learn more about MNT and other nutrition consultations at Sun Health Wellness.