What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Nutritional Therapy?

A doctor may refer you to a dietitian for nutrition therapy to make sure that you're eating the best diet possible for your health condition. A qualified dietitian will assess your current diet and help you develop a meal plan that will allow you to learn healthier eating habits. Medical nutrition therapy, or MNT, can have many advantages for your health.

Nutritious foods on a table with a laptop. (Image: amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Effects on Health

MNT can improve health condition or prevent complications through dietary modifications, according to the American Dietetic Association. You may benefit from MNT if you're overweight or have certain conditions, including some types of cancer, heart disease, food allergies, HIV or AIDS, kidney disease, or type 1 or type 2 diabetes. A disadvantage of MNT is that you may need to follow a strict diet to see benefits.

Cost

A potential disadvantage of nutritional therapy is the high cost of food. You may need to purchase special products, such as certain brands of nutritional shakes, or more expensive foods than your usual fare. Appointments with a dietitian can be an extra expense. However, the cost of nutritional therapy may be less than the amount of money that you save by improving your health with a good diet. Also, some insurance plans, such as Medicare, cover nutritional therapy.

Noninvasive Medical Treatment

A benefit of medical nutrition therapy, or MNT, is that unlike treatments that require regular administration at a clinic, you can follow the diet at home. Another advantage is that you often have a great amount of freedom with your food choices. For example, if your diet for diabetes includes a certain number of servings of healthy fats, you can choose from a variety of options, such as avocados, olive oil, almonds or peanut oil, according to MayoClinic.com.

Additional Effects

Nutritional therapy for certain conditions can sometimes prevent or improve other health conditions. For example, nutritional therapy for type 2 diabetes is designed to help you manage your blood sugar levels. A diet for diabetes can also lower your blood triglycerides, help you lose weight and lower your risk for heart disease, according to MayoClinic.com. Nutritional therapy on its own isn't enough to prevent or treat a wide variety of health conditions, and additional lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and refraining from smoking, can help keep you healthy.

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