The purpose of a nutrition care plan is to identify the health and nutrition needs of a client and address those needs by developing dietary goals and devising an intervention plan to provide aid and support in meeting them. Typically, nutrition care plans are developed and implemented by a dietitian, often in collaboration with a person's health care team. Common reasons for nutritional intervention include disease prevention, disease or symptom management, injury or illness recovery, weight loss, eating disorder treatment, pregnancy support and improvement of general health and wellness.
Among the most common purposes for a nutrition care plan is the prevention of diseases and health conditions in individuals who have been determined to be at high risk by their medical care team. According to a World Heath Organization report,entitled " Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases," nutrition intervention can aid in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as elevated blood pressure, triglycerides or cholesterol levels. Individuals with pre-diabetes can often benefit from nutritional intervention as well, bringing blood glucose levels and body weight under better control to prevent or delay progression to full-blown diabetes. Other conditions that nutritional intervention may help prevent include osteoporosis, certain types of cancer and dental disease, among many others.
Disease or Symptom Management
Some diseases and health conditions have a nutritional component, with poor dietary habits, nutrient absorption issues, food sensitivities or allergies contributing to their development or worsening their symptoms. Among these are diabetes, intestinal disorders, depression, renal disease and some pulmonary diseases, to name just a few. Nutrition counseling can be of great benefit in many of these conditions, slowing the progress of some diseases and aiding in managing or reducing symptoms in others.
Injury or Illness Recovery
A nutrition care plan is often an invaluable tool in helping the body recover from injury or illness. According to an educational review performed by the Academic Unit of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, University of Aberdeen, UK., trauma to due to injury or illness can deplete the body of its stores of essential nutrients, impeding the healing and recovery process and impairing immune system function, raising risk of opportunistic infections. Dietitians are often consulted to evaluate nutritional status in such patients and devise a nutrition care plan that will provide optimal support for the body throughout the recovery period.
General Health and Wellness
Nutrition is an important factor in physical, mental and emotional health and well-being, a fact that has become common knowledge among doctors and their patients, leading to an increasing demand for nutritional counseling. A good nutrition care plan can provide a person with more energy, sharpen mental function, increase strength, vitality and endurance and regulate moods. Nutrition therapy can also minimize menopause symptoms and slow some aspects of the aging process, such as muscle loss and diminishing bone density.
Athletes often use nutrition care plans to optimize health and fitness. A personalized dietary plan can provide the higher nutrient levels the body needs to maximize strength, endurance and coordination, enhancing athletic performance. Nutrition therapy is also frequently used to aid athletes in recovery after sports-related injuries.
Nutrition care plans are being used for an ever-growing list of purposes. Much of that growth can be attributed to nutritional research and technologies that have increased the effectiveness of nutritional therapy and made it more easily accessible to the average person, as well as increasing awareness among health care professionals and their patients of the intimate relationship that exists between good nutrition and good health.