People need to consume a balanced diet to maintain health. The gastrointestinal tract is central to health maintenance, since nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine and water predominantly absorbed by the colon (or large intestine).
The energy provided by the food we consume is measured in Calories. Our weight is simply a function of the energy we consume and the energy we expend. Too much energy consumed and we put on weight; too little energy consumed and we lose weight.
One of the keys to staying healthy is a balanced diet. A varied and healthy diet combined with routine, mild or moderate exercise will help your body maintain its healthiest possible condition.
Many complex disease states are complicated by nutritional problems – that being undernutrition or overnutrition. These extremes of malnutrition can have a tremendous impact on our response to medical therapy, activity level and quality of life.
Undernutrition is commonly seen in individuals with chronic medical problems such as:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- lung disease
- lack of appetite
Others may have lost the ability to swallow, such as after a stroke.
Still, others may have a problem absorbing nutrients from food, also known as malabsorption, because:
- the small bowel is diseased (such as in Crohn’s Disease);
- the small bowel is not long enough (as seen in short bowel syndrome);
- muscle contractions of the small and large intestine are abnormal (motility disorder).
Approaches to these problems range from the use of nutritional supplements to the placement and management of feeding tubes or intravenous catheters for the delivery of nutrition.
Overnutrition, or obesity, is currently an epidemic in the United States, as well as in many other countries world-wide. A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of obesity is absolutely necessary to obtain good clinical outcomes that last.
This treatment regimen may involve:
- dietary counseling
- exercise education
- behavior modifications
- medications to control appetite
Bariatric surgical procedures are also a very important treatment option in the right patients. Surgical treatments of obesity requires a center approach where the clinical expertise and knowledge ensure good outcomes with limited complications.