Human nutrition is the science of diet and its interactions with growth, development, physiology, metabolism, and composition of the human body. It involves the role of nutrition in normal and abnormal individuals, the impact of nutrition on health and disease, and the interactions between diet, host, and environment. Clinical nutrition is the practice of analyzing if a person is consuming an adequate amount of nutrients for good health.
Clinical nutrition majors prepare for careers designing diets as part of medical treatment programs and running food services in hospitals and other clinical settings. Topics of instruction include nutrition, metabolism, the ways in which foods help to prevent disease, diet planning, and much more.
A clinical nutritionist is concerned with how nutrients in food are processed, stored and discarded by your body, along with how what you eat affects your overall well-being. Professionals in this field assess your nutritional needs based on your family and medical history, lifestyle and laboratory tests in order to make recommendations on your diet and individual nutritional needs. A clinical nutritionist may provide advice on changes to your diet that may help prevent disease.
Countries all over the world recognize the important role nutrition plays in improving health and preventing disease and have prioritized nutrition and diet within their national health plans. Most countries worldwide have identified a need to increase the capacity of their nutrition workforce, but few have the resources to provide this in their own country beyond undergraduate level.
Nutrition education, an essential component of medical nutrition therapy and services, helps individuals establish and maintain healthy lifestyles, good food habits and attitudes. Individual and group instructions on the prescribed medical nutrition therapy are planned and scheduled as soon as medically feasible. Health maintenance and preventive nutrition therapy are an integral part of the Nutrition Education Program.
Some healthcare providers (medical doctors, osteopaths, physician assistants, chiropractors and naturopathic doctors) may also be nutritionists if they’ve completed extra study in the area of nutrition. They practice clinical nutrition which is usually considered part of alternative or complementary medicine.
Nutrition plays a major role in health, prevention of disease, and recovery from illness. While the role of nutrition is obvious in certain medical problems, it is subtle in many others. Knowledge of potential interactions with nutrition can be extremely valuable clinically. Such interactions can be categorized to facilitate logical evaluation. After a careful history, physical examination, and preliminary laboratory studies are performed, consideration of the impact of diet on these findings is often clinically rewarding.
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