Diet Therapy: What's it For?

15 September, 2020
Did you know that through your diet you can control and prevent many illnesses? This is the role of diet therapy. Here we'll tell you more.
 

Diet therapy is a science that aims to improve the management of certain illnesses through the foods we eat. The diet is able to prevent illnesses, and many times it’s also a possible solution to them. For this reason, in certain situations, there are certain dietary changes that you can make to help you improve your health.

In any case, this topic is complex and technical. There are many possibilities that all depend on the individual, their genes, their level of physical activity, and the illness that’s being treated. For this reason, you can’t treat a patient with renal problems in the same way that you’d treat a person with diabetes.

Diet therapy as a preventive method

Before an illness manifests itself in the body, it’s possible to establish dietary changes to prevent illness. Dietary therapy offers some recommendations for this.

One of these changes would be, for example, reducing the consumption of trans fats. These nutrients, which are derived when cooking vegetable oils at high temperatures, are associated with a higher state of systemic inflammation. In fact, a study published in the journal Progress in Lipid Research confirms that regularly ingesting these lipids may increase the risk of atherosclerosis.

Another basic piece of advice that diet therapy offers to reduce the incidence of complex illnesses is reducing the consumption of added sugars. According to experts, this class of carbohydrates is positively connected with the development of metabolic illnesses. The most common example of these is diabetes.

 
Consuming sugar in apples

Diet therapy for the treatment of certain illnesses

Once an illness has already developed, it’s possible to use diet therapy to slow its progression. For example, reducing the protein intake in a patient with renal failure can improve the function of these organs as well as reducing the risk of complications.

On the other hand, in the case of patients with cancer, there are certain dietary strategies that can increase the effects of prescription drugs. One of these strategies can be the reduction of carbohydrates. 

Over the last few years, research has investigated the application of intermittent fasting on patients with this illness. The results, as the journal Clinics confirms, have been promising.

Supplements can make the difference

In addition to the diet itself, supplementing with certain nutrients can also help to prevent the onset of diseases or improve their treatment. A clear example is the use of melatonin. 

This hormone is in charge of regulating the sleep and wake cycles. It’s also able to reduce the inflammatory states of the body when it’s administered chronically. Thanks to this effect, there’s a lower risk of metabolic problems, for example.

 

The case for probiotics is also worth arguing. These bacterias are present in fermented products and are capable of colonizing the digestive tract. Once there, they unchain a series of beneficial effects for the health, such as the formation of short-chain fatty acids.

Supplementing with certain strains of probiotics has been known to improve certain problems such as lactose intolerance, diarrhea caused by antibiotics, and even anxiety.

Probiotic supplement capsules

In addition to medicine, diet therapy

When someone is diagnosed with a disease, the first option is always to run to pharmaceuticals. However, diet therapy can have a positive impact on the course of many of them. 

An adequate diet can reduce the risk of developing certain illnesses. In addition, changes in your dietary habits can help slow the progression of the disease and increase the impacts of pharmaceuticals.

For this reason, it’s beneficial to visit a nutritional professional once in a while. This, in combination with diet therapy, can bring a series of changes to your life that can positively impact your health in both the short and long run. Even if you’re already presenting certain problems, adjusting your diet can help reduce your symptoms and increase your quality of life.

 

Every day we’re learning more about the interactions between nutrients and the human body. The same with supplements. Diet therapy is a relatively new discipline but it still has a long way to go.

  • Valenzuela CA., Baker EJ., Miles EA., Calder PC., Eigtheen carbon trans fatty acids and inflammation in the context of atherosclerosis. Prog Lipid Res, 2019.
  • Jhonson RJ., Sánchez Lozada LG., Andrews P., Lanaspa MA., Perspectiva: a historical and scientific perspective of sugar and its relation with obesity and diabetes. Adv Nutr, 2017. 8 (3): 412-422.
  • Antunes F., Erustes AG., Costa AJ., Nascimento AC., et al., Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy? Clinics, 2018.