Many people are wrong to think that the nutritionist is the exclusive professional for the elaboration of diets for weight loss or weight gain. The performance covers all age groups with an important role in the treatment of nutritional deficiencies, acquisition of new habits, food allergies and sports nutrition.
“The monitoring aims to seek physical and nutritional well-being, through the selection of the healthiest and most suitable ingredients for individuals in all life cycles, from childhood to the elderly”, explains Vanessa Vieira Lourenço Costa, nutritionist and professor at Faculty of Nutrition at UFPA (Federal University of Pará).
It is always good to remember that a healthy and balanced diet prevents diseases — it increases immunity, reduces infections and benefits circulation —, improves quality of life, increases energy and mood, reduces tiredness, delays aging and combats the effects of stress.
“Diets without guidance lead to nutritional deficiencies, overload of organs, such as kidneys and liver, and compromised immunity, in addition to affecting performance at work, in studies and in daily routines”, points out Costa.
Next, check out the reasons to seek the advice of a nutritionist.
1. You can make a custom plan
People who are looking for healthier and more balanced meals can create a personalized meal plan, respecting tastes and schedules. It is an individualized dietary prescription, prepared according to weight, height, caloric needs, distribution of macronutrients, pathologies, nutrient restrictions, as well as customs, preferences and goals.
The UFPA professor reports that these procedures result in significant cost-effectiveness, with health maintenance and without excessive expenses.
2. Professional helps in food reeducation
“Food reeducation is the act of modifying eating behaviors in order to solve diseases, lose weight or even avoid the accordion effect, which consists of recurrent weight loss and gain”, says Dani Borges, nutritionist and physical educator.
Recommendations are made through flexible plans, in which nutrient amounts are calculated individually. “It is important to emphasize that the preference for low-calorie and balanced products should continue throughout life”, emphasizes the UFPA professor.
3. Vegetarian diet without lack of nutrients
According to the SVB (Brazilian Vegetarian Society), vegetarianism is a diet that excludes products of animal origin. Veganism, in the definition of the Vegan Society, is a way of life that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation and cruelty against animals, whether in food, clothing or other spheres of consumption.
However, it is necessary to know how to maintain a balanced diet, without leaving nutrients out. A nutritionist can help you select foods that are sources of essential nutrients, with a good supply of vitamins and minerals.
The UFPA professor considers that a vegetarian diet is substantial when properly planned and prescribed by a nutritionist. “Vegetarians consume greater amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, as well as antioxidant vitamins (C, E and carotenoids) and functional ingredients,” she says.
4. Prevent nutritional deficiencies
Not consuming essential amounts of some nutrients can cause serious health problems. A classic example is anemia, caused by a deficiency of one or more essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron and zinc. Its symptoms are weakness, drowsiness, dizziness, pallor and general tiredness. “It is a very common clinical condition that can cause severe damage to the body and health when left untreated. An unbalanced diet, surgeries, significant blood loss and predominance of consumption of processed products are triggering factors”, says Borges.
To avoid the lack of essential substances for the proper functioning of the body, the dish needs to be varied and well colored, with sources of carbohydrates, proteins, good fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. A nutritionist can help indicate the patient’s needs and even indicate supplementation.
5. Work around food allergies and intolerances
After the correct diagnosis made by doctors, Borges explains that restrictive diets due to health conditions, such as celiac disease, which requires excluding gluten from the diet, must be defined by nutrition experts.
“The nutritionist collaborates in the conquest of healthy habits, especially in families that experience some feeding difficulty, for example, type 1 diabetes, so that it is overcome and does not become more serious and critical. The drastic restrictions affect the development and execution of basic activities”, emphasizes Viviane Laudelino Vieira, nutritionist at CRNutri (Reference Center for the Prevention and Control of Nutrition-Associated Diseases) at FSP-USP (School of Public Health at the University of São Paulo).
6. Help with pregnancy and child feeding
The nutritionist’s role in the child’s health begins with the care of the mother’s diet even before pregnancy. Encouraging healthy habits and maintaining an adequate weight allow for a lower risk of substantial deficiencies and food-related diseases during pregnancy.
After birth, the nutritionist accompanies mother and child, promoting and encouraging breastfeeding: a fundamental step due to the benefits to the baby’s immune, digestive and metabolic systems, in addition to the mother’s health.
In the food introduction phase, Vieira comments that the nutritionist is the professional with the most ability to help, in relation to the variety, consistency of food and forms of preparation.
7. Elderly diet
In this age group, organic, physiological and metabolic changes resulting from the aging process are evaluated, such as in the digestive tract, in body composition and in secondary changes – visual, smell and taste impairment, reduction of teeth, decreased gastric secretion , immunodeficiency and difficulty in ingestion. The UFBA professor clarifies that the loss of taste sensation and the total or partial absence of teeth and/or the inappropriate use of dentures cause damage to chewing, reducing the intake of food, such as meat, fruits, vegetables and raw vegetables.
In addition, there is a progressive decrease in lean mass (water, bone and muscle tissue), a reduction in body water that affects the performance of physical exercises and the caloric need, which tends to fall.
Associated diseases —infections, heart and kidney failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, intestinal malabsorption of nutrients, among others—, socioeconomic changes, such as lower income, loneliness, isolation, and interaction with medications are analyzed for the elaboration of a personalized menu.
8. Assistance in training
To obtain better performance and results in training, a nutritionist can be important. “It is essential to adapt the dish to the calories spent in training”, says Borges. Also, many start taking supplements when they start exercising, which can be dangerous if taken without a prescription. “Consuming supplements on their own is harmful. Inappropriate use triggers a series of problems, such as cardiac arrhythmia, changes in blood pressure, insomnia, drowsiness and even anxiety”, warns the nutritionist and physical educator.
9. Obesity and bariatric surgery
Costa comments that bariatric surgery is indicated in the control and treatment of severe obesity, with resolution or marked improvement of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as systemic arterial hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood). Nutritional monitoring in bariatric surgeries is initiated in the preoperative phase, in order to identify and treat nutritional disorders.
“Postoperatively, nutritional status is monitored with the aim of minimizing possible deficiencies, or weight regain, and identifying intake errors. Individualized plans are prescribed in order to ensure adequate consumption, prevent nutritional deficiencies and promote healthy weight loss”, says the UFPA professor.