Health Management


Disease State


Nutrition plays a key role in your physical and mental health. When you learn more about your disease, you are better equipped to help manage it. Take control of your health and learn how nutrition can improve your quality of life.

Diabetes

Type 1, type 2, gestational, or pre- diabetes, combined, affect more than 9 million Canadians. It is a disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin allows your body to store and use glucose for energy, which is essential for your body and brain to function.

Managing your diabetes is crucial, because it can have serious complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, impotence, and nerve damage. By keeping your blood sugar levels in the target range, you can prevent or delay any of the above complications.

By learning more about which foods affect your blood sugar and regulating your eating you can control your blood sugar levels effectively with food.

Sources


Canadian Diabetes Association

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects the large intestine and the rectum. Because absorption of nutrients from food occurs in some parts of the large intestine, Ulcerative Colitis may impact your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals such as, iron, folic acid and calcium. 

Therefore, it is incredibly important to eat a balanced diet, to help keep you properly nourished. This is even more of a priority when you are experiencing a flare up. During this time you need to focus on consuming a nutrient dense diet, consisting of foods that are high in iron, folic acid, vitamin D, and calcium. 

Sources


Dietitians of Canada 2011

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD or Heartburn)

Heartburn, despite its name, has nothing to do with the heart. It is caused when stomach acid comes back up into the esophagus, which creates a “burning” feeling and sometimes a bitter or sour taste in the mouth and throat. These symptoms may last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. 

You can manage your symptoms or prevent them from occurring by making certain food choices and lifestyle changes. By getting in the habit of eating smaller, more frequent meals, limiting the fats you consume, and staying away from certain food items like spicy food or caffeine, you will reduce the occurrences of GERD. 

Sources


Dietitians of Canada 2008

Hyperlipidemia (High Cholesterol or Dyslipidemia)

Total blood cholesterol contains two types of cholesterol, each with a different function. Low Density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad cholesterol" can form plaque on your artery walls and block blood flow to your heart. Therefore we should aim for low LDL levels. However, we should aim for high levels of High Density lipoproteins (HDL). This is considered “good cholesterol”, as it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries. 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet, monitoring fat consumption, and increasing your intake of nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, can help lower your bad cholesterol levels. 

Sources


Canadian Cardiovascular Society Dyslipidemia Guidelines 2012

HIV/AIDS

HIV (the Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that weakens the immune system by attacking important cells that fight disease and infection.  A deficient immune system leaves people vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the final stage of the HIV infection, when your body loses the ability to fight off any new infections or diseases. It typically takes more than 10 years for HIV to progress to AIDS, and not everyone who has HIV will advance to this stage. 

Proper nutrition has a number of benefits, including:

  • Improving your quality of life by providing your body with adequate nutrients. 
  • Maintaining your immune system so you can better fight diseases. 
  • Help managing symptoms and complications associated with the disease or the medications. 

Sources


Public Health Agency of Canada - What is HIV/AIDS

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causes your strong, dense bones to become thin, weak, and porous. This makes them more susceptible to breaking or fracturing. It can slowly deteriorate your bone density over many years without any signs or symptoms. 

Nutrition and lifestyle are incredibly important in managing osteoporosis, as the consumption of certain vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, are essential to your bone health. 

Sources


Dietitians of Canada 2009
Osteoporosis Canada 2010

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a chronic condition that affects your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). It involves problems with how the bowel moves contents through our intestines and how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel. 

Symptoms may come and go over time and are different for each person, they may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Each individual is affected by different foods. Certain foods and drinks more commonly aggravate IBS, such as processed and fatty foods, caffeine, and foods high in fructose. It may be beneficial to try the FODMAP diet to help identify what types of foods triggers your symptoms.

 

Sources


Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

Crohn’s

Crohn’s disease is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It can affect the whole digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus; different areas are impacted for different people.  Because absorption of nutrients from food occurs in the small intestine and some parts of the large intestine, Crohn’s may impact your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. 

Therefore, it is incredibly important to eat a balanced diet to help keep you properly nourished. This is a bigger priority when you are experiencing a flare up. During this time you need to focus on consuming a nutrient dense diet, consisting of foods that are high in iron, folic acid, vitamin D, and calcium. 

Sources


Dietitians of Canada 2011

Mental Health

Mental health impacts many aspects of our lives, and extends beyond the absence of mental illness. It influences how we think and feel, and affects our ability to cope and adapt to life events. 

Our mental health is affected by a number of factors, including proper nutrition. Nutrition can impact our concentration, focus, energy levels, and mood; it can also help manage certain mental illnesses. 

Furthermore, medications we take, specifically those combating mental illness, can affect our nutrition, gastrointestinal function, and weight. By making certain lifestyle adjustments we can help to mitigate the impact of these medications.

Sources


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Dietitians of Canada – Promoting Mental Health Through
Healthy Eating and Nutrition Care - December 2012

Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease is a group of conditions with many root causes that affects the structure and functions of the heart. It is one of the leading causes of death for men and women in Canada. 

Heart disease is both preventable and manageable. To reduce the risks that caused your cardiovascular disease, it is recommended that you adjust your diet by choosing your fats wisely, limiting sweet and salt, and consuming nutrient dense foods, such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. 

Sources


Dietitians of Canada 2013
Heart & Stroke Foundation

Gout

Gout is a complex form of arthritis, which happens when urate crystals collect in your joints leaving them swollen and painful. Urate crystals can form when you have a high level of uric acid in your body. Levels of uric acid vary based on: 

  • The amount your body can get rid of (most common reason)
  • The amount your body makes on its own
  • The amount of purine you eat, as uric acid is formed when purine is broken down

If you consume foods that help clear uric acid from your body and limit your consumption of foods that contain purines, you can reduce or prevent symptoms.

Sources


Dietitians of Canada 2008

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Blood pressure is the force of blood against your blood vessels as it circulates. This force is necessary to make the blood flow, delivering nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means there is too much pressure in your blood vessels and your artery walls are therefore stretching beyond their normal limit. This can damage the vessels, resulting in serious health problems.  

Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but it becomes more common as you get older. It is best managed through following a heart healthy balanced diet, with special attention to reducing your sodium intake. 

Sources


Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP)

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (CD) occurs when gluten damages the small intestine, resulting in the poor absorption of nutrients. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and related grains, such as rye, barley, and spelt. Even a small amount of gluten is harmful to those with CD or dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), a skin form of celiac disease that also causes skin rashes. 

Symptoms of CD and DH include: diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, weight loss, tiredness, low iron levels.  The only treatment available for those suffering these diseases is permanently following a strict gluten-free diet. Adhering to this diet will help your small intestine heal and therefore eliminate symptoms and other risks

Sources


Canadian Celiac Association 2011
Dietitians of Canada 2011
Shelley Case, RD