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Nutritious diet keeps chronic diseases at bay
By Ajita Rijal
Kathmandu, June 24: The growing prevalence of non-communicable and chronic diseases has added more burden on the country’s healthcare facilities.
A dietician and nutritionist play a significant role in changing the dietary habit of an individual for the prevention of the non-communicable diseases, which helps reduce the burden on healthcare system of the nation.
"If patients change their food habit as prescribed by the dietician and use diet as an alternative to medicines, they will be free from getting non-communicable diseases," said Dr. Uma Koirala, a nutritionist.
“We have found many misconceptions about diet among the diabetics, blood pressure and kidney patients. People who are taking insulin and medicines think that they can eat anything, but it is wrong concept as they must adhere to the balanced diet regime to keep their diseases under control," Dr Koirala added.
These patients need to maintain a healthy diet plan; and as every individual has their own necessity, one should not take the food items or restrict themselves comparing with others, said Dr Koirala.
Most of the doctors prescribed the medicines to the patients but never give counseling on the eating habits. In most cases, the doctors provide dietary information only when the patients inquire them about foods to be eaten by them.
"A patient must be referred a dietician to receive nutrition advice," said Dr. Atul Upadhyay, a dietician.
After diagnosing the diseases in the patient, doctors must refer them to the dietician for better effects. If the patients change their eating habit along with the intake of medicines, they will feel better soon, said Dr Upadhyay.
A dietitian changes their patient's nutrition intakes based upon their medical condition and individual needs, Dr Upadhyay.
Although having vacancies of dieticians in hospitals is a need of time, no hospital outside the valley has a provision to hire dieticians, who can provide counseling to the needy patients on their dietary habit.
A few hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley have employed well trained dieticians.
However, the quotas of the dietician and nutritionist in most of the hospitals have never been fulfilled. If there are some dieticians in hospital, they are not available to all the patients who need dietary counseling, said Dr Aruna Upreti, a nutritionist.
According to Dr Upreti, many traditional and non-processed foods such as millet, maize, buckwheat, flaxseed and vegetables cooked in iron utensils are dense with nutrients, which help prevent non-communicable and chronic diseases.
Locally available products in the community have rich nutrition value, Dr Upreti said. Only focusing on drugs and medical health services will not prevent one from the non-communicable diseases, instead it leads to unhealthy lifestyle of the people, Upreti added.
"The government needs to prioritise nutrition and healthy lifestyle education not only to treat but also to prevent chronic diseases afflicting common people,” said Dr Upreti.
"The government policies have prioritised nutrition and have provided guidelines but this plan is mostly based on medicines, not on nutritious food," said Dr Upreti.