Therapy through diet is a general term used for the practical application of nutrition in the treatment or prevention of disease. This usually involves, modifying or improving the existing food plan to promote optimal health.
However, in some cases, an alternative dietary plan could be developed in order to eliminate certain foods. For example, this type of therapy through diet is often recommended for those suffering from allergies, including allergies that are not food related. Therapy through exclusion diet is considered helpful in relieving symptoms associated with attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity in children.
Examples of therapies through diet
There are many diets that can be used for therapeutic purposes. Some of these aim to increase resistance to certain medical conditions. Often, these diets are named after a particular region or culture that regularly consumes certain types of food and where certain diseases are less common.
For example, the Mediterranean Diet stresses the use of healthy food sources of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. This diet is rich in lean meats, whole grains, fruits and fresh vegetables, while fatty meat consumption is limited. Studies have shown that those who embrace this type of diet can significantly reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and the risk of heart disease.
Another special diet known as the Eskimo diet reduces the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. The Inuit population of Greenland and Alaska rarely experience heart disease, although they consume a diet high in fat and cholesterol. The paradox occurs as a result of the consumption of large quantities of fish, especially mackerel and salmon. So, unlike the Mediterranean philosophy that encourages choosing monounsaturated fats, the Eskimo diet is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Therapy through diet can be used for prevention or treatment of cancer. High intake of antioxidants and bioflavonoids from natural sources (fruits and vegetables) reduces the action of oxidative stress on the body and helps preventing many types of cancer. Specifically, vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower may reduce the risk of colon cancer and stomach. In addition, limiting the fat in the diet (maximum 30% of daily calorie intake) may reduce the formation of colon and breast cancer.
Diets used in therapy require, most often, using an indicative list upon which to choose foods that will be included in the daily menus by those who are dieting. The list can contain both products whose intake should be increased, and foods that have partially or completely been removed from the diet.
For instance, arthritis therapy through diet involves eating foods with anti-inflammatory action and eliminating foods high in oxalic acid.
The therapy through diet for depression is trying to encourage the intake of certain foods to increase the production of certain hormones in the brain, such as serotonin. The diet does this by increasing the daily intake of complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.