1- What is nutrition?

2- What diseases does nutrition treat?

3- What are the subspecialties of nutrition?

4- When should I see a nutritionist?

What is nutrition?

Nutrition and dietetics refers to the medical discipline that specializes in the study of the characteristics and properties of food, in order to assess the patient’s assimilation of nutrients and diagnose their nutritional status, as well as various diseases related to diet and food. Nutrition and dietetics professionals are able to advise patients on the best diet according to their characteristics and needs.

Food is the process by which we ingest substances given to us by the food we eat and, therefore, nutrition is the set of processes by which we ingest, absorb, transform and use the substances found in these foods to supply our body with the energy necessary for our metabolism.

The energy needs of each person will depend on different factors:

  • Active cell mass.
  • Age: the older you are, the lower your caloric expenditure will be.
  • Sex: women have more caloric expenditure than men.
  • Rest time.
  • Special situations of the individual, such as pregnancy, stress or pathologies that increase caloric expenditure.
  • Temperature, since extreme variations have a significant influence on energy needs.
  • Physical exercise, where it increases when there is more caloric expenditure when performing a physical activity.

The nutrients that are considered essential are:

  • Water: it is the macronutrient par excellence that makes up 60-70% of our body’s weight. Water acts as a solvent and vehicle for the nutrients that are ingested and those that are expelled. It is also the medium through which most biochemical reactions take place and is essential for the regulation of body temperature. It is recommended to consume 2-3 liters of water daily.
  • Proteins: they are the source of nitrogen in our body and their main function is to form and repair body structures. In a balanced diet, protein should provide 10-15% of the total energy consumed.
  • Lipids: are compounds insoluble in water and soluble in organic solvents, including fats, among others. These fats can be found in some foods such as butter, oils or meat fat, but also in others where it does not seem so visible, such as nuts, sausages or milk. Their main functions are to provide energy to the body, protect the integrity of the skin, act as shock absorbers and also have a regulatory function by providing essential fatty acids for body temperature.
  • Carbohydrates: their main function is to provide energy to our body and also serve to provide an energy reserve to the organism to be able to carry out all vital functions. The best known are glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose and starch. It is recommended that 55-60% of the calories we consume should be carbohydrates.
  • Fiber: are all those compounds that our body is not able to digest, since we do not have the enzymes that can do it. Fiber is found exclusively in plant foods. Soluble fiber helps abdominal distention, slows the absorption of nutrients in the intestine, reduces cholesterol levels and slows the increase of glucose in the blood. Insoluble fiber, which almost reaches the rectum intact, helps to normalize intestinal transit and prevents constipation.
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On the other hand, the essential minerals are based on calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium. And as for the essential vitamins for our body to stay healthy in all aspects are: vitamin B, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K.

Nutrition provides the necessary information about each patient’s diet,
according to their characteristics and needs.

What diseases does Nutrition and Dietetics treat?

Nutrition and Dietetics prevents and diagnoses all diseases related to food and nutrient assimilation. Thus, its field includes metabolic diseases and weight control: it prevents obesity, overweight and diseases derived from them, as well as eating disorders, by following a healthy diet.

In the event that the patient is suffering from a heart disease or similar, the nutritionist will be in charge of monitoring the patient’s diet, as well as referring the patient to the appropriate specialist according to his or her pathology.

What subspecialties are included in Nutrition and Dietetics?

Nutrition and dietetics is the discipline that, through the study of food and its impact on our health, stipulates the appropriate diet for each case. It is related to other specialties derived from food, such as Endocrinology, but does not include any subspecialty.

When should I see a Nutritionist?

A professional nutritionist or dietitian should be consulted whenever a dietary diagnosis is required. If you are looking to start a diet for aesthetic or health reasons, you should first go to a nutritionist to get the best results, without missing any necessary nutrients. Likewise, if any metabolic disease is suspected, you can go to the nutritionist. Also before embarking on a different eating stage, such as going vegetarian or vegan, it is necessary to follow up with a nutritionist to make sure you are eating correctly for your health.