What if you could have an apple instead of a medicine? What if you could replace your cholesterol medicines with a bowl of oats? What if you could have curds instead of an antacid to sooth your intestine? This kind of food which makes food the medicine to fight diseases is a therapeutic diet.
Lifestyle diseases like cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, uric acid or hormonal imbalance (PCOS, Thyroid etc), bloating, water retention, acidity, constipation can be significantly reduced or sometimes completely treated by a therapeutic diet planned by a nutritionist.
A therapeutic diet uses food as a therapy and controls the intake of certain foods and nutrients as a part of treatment. While designing a therapeutic diet the nutritionist eliminate, decrease or increase specific nutritional needs in the diet or reduces the risks of inflammation or reactions.
The therapeutic diets are based on the science of nutrients and how they interact with a disease. The therapeutic diets are a modification of the normal diets where the nutritionist removes or adds certain foods, changes nutrient texture or modifies the caloric content of the food by increasing or decreasing bulk in the diet.
Some common examples of therapeutic diets are gluten-free diet, low- carbohydrate, low-sodium, no concentrated sweet diet, renal diet, low fat diet, high fibre diet, no added salts diet etc. Diabetic diet and DASH (The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet are the most common diets used by nutritionist to control lifestyle disorders.
Some examples of therapeutic diets are:
- Hypertension Diet: This diet is planned to reduce the sodium intake and increase the foods rich in nutrients that lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. The nutritionist often increases the quantity of fresh vegetables, fruits and legumes and eliminates packaged or pre-cooked meals with salt as preservatives.
- Thyroid Diet- This diet is designed to balance the two thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4). Many common foods contain compounds that interfere with thyroid hormone absorption, example soy, iodine rich foods and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts. A nutritionist will plan thyroid diet to include more of berries, tomatoes, bell peppers which are rich in antioxidants, selenium-rich foods like sunflower seeds or Brazil nuts, sources of tyrosine like meats, dairy, and legumes.
Along with treating lifestyle diseases nutritionists use therapeutic diets for post operative care or until the patients recover from their clinical or medical condition.
A nutritionist may change the therapeutic diet over time or make it permanent based on the person’s response and improvement in health condition.