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Medical Nutrition Therapy: Definition & Uses

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  • 0:01 Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • 1:10 How It Works
  • 2:20 Benefits and Drawbacks
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Medical nutrition therapy is a dietary intervention that is used to prevent or treat health conditions that are caused by or made worse by unhealthy eating habits. Learn about MNT and how it can be used to treat common medical conditions.

Medical Nutrition Therapy

It's hard to ignore the link between nutrition and health. If you follow the standard American diet, which is appropriately abbreviated as SAD, then you regularly consume foods like pizza, burgers, fries and ice cream. These foods are high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt and low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. While there's no denying the fact that these foods taste good, when you eat them, your body must pay the price. In fact, if these foods make up the majority of your diet, you might find yourself in need of a dietary intervention. Medical nutrition therapy, or MNT, is the proper name of this type of intervention.

MNT is a dietary approach to treating medical conditions. It's typically administered by a registered dietitian. Because a number of medical conditions are caused by or made worse by eating an unhealthy diet, MNT has become a valuable tool in the management of many common health problems. In this lesson, we will look at how medical nutrition therapy is used and some of the benefits and drawbacks associated with it.

How It Works

Let's say that you visit your doctor for your yearly physical. During the exam, your doctor notices that your blood pressure is 150/90, which is high. Your doctor wants to take action to get your blood pressure down because he knows that, if left untreated, it will increase your risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. However, instead of prescribing a pill, your doctor sends you to a registered dietitian for medical nutrition therapy.

A registered dietitian, or RD, is a nutrition expert who is qualified to design meal plans for patients with medical conditions. You're a bit nervous about visiting the dietitian because you know your current diet is SAD. But, you follow your doctor's orders and schedule the appointment. Much to your relief, your appointment goes smoothly and was even fun. After evaluating your current diet, the dietitian sat down with you and together you worked out a plan to bring more fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and plant foods into your diet. She even left you with some helpful tips on how to shop for and prepare healthy meals.

Benefits and Drawbacks

After dinner that evening, which included salmon, cooked vegetables, and wild rice, you reflected on your visit to the registered dietitian. You realized that medical nutrition therapy has many benefits. For example, nutritional therapy can be followed at home, with no need to go to a clinic to receive multiple treatments. You also feel a sense of relief that MNT has few, if any side effects, unlike what you might have expected from drug therapy. In fact, you realize that improving your diet can prevent other health conditions.

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