"Importance of Nutrition on Illness Recovery" is an important example of a paper on food and nutrition. Proper nutrition is important for the normal functioning of the human body. Recovering patients in hospitals are especially at risk due to the weakening of the body, often due to the illnesses they are recovering from or the medication they are receiving. As such, they require diets that provide the body with the much-needed strength in order to acquire prompt recovery. This paper explores the importance of nutrition for recovering patients. The human body requires energy to work and move around each day. This energy comes from the sun, through the plants that provide food in the form of nutrients (Sizer & Whitney 2013). Carbohydrates are broken into glucose for the provision of energy to the body. Fats fuel the body, make up the cell membrane, aid the body in the absorption of vitamins, and act as insulation for the body. Proteins help with the repair, maintenance, and growth of body tissues. Minerals, such as phosphorous and calcium, constitute parts of body structures like the bones. Vitamins and minerals are used by the body as regulators for digestion of food, disposal of wastes, movement of muscles, healing wounds, obtaining energy from fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, growth of new tissues, and any other processes. Nutrients help maintain the normal function and health of cells, the building blocks of body tissues like muscles and bones, systems such as respiratory and circulatory and organs like liver, heart, and kidney. Water is also important for the hydration of cells and the whole body, digestion, and removal of wastes. Different factors influence a person’ s nutrition requirements.
For instance, the energy requirement decreases with age as younger people have a higher metabolic rate than older people (Baillie 2014). Women have lower energy needs as men have greater muscle mass, resulting in a higher metabolic rate too. The height and build of an individual and the physical activity they engage in also determine the energy requirement and utilization.
Similarly, pregnant and lactating mothers require high nutrient foods to cater to the growing fetus as well as feed the growing infant with essential nutrients. Lack of any or a number of nutrients results in disorders that ultimately affect the normal functioning of the cell and may lead to disorders that may affect organs, tissues, and systems of the body. For instance, a lack of vitamin E causes impaired speech and vision and loss of muscle reflexes and coordination (Sizer & Whitney 2013). Protein deficiency may result in growth failure while a lack of vitamin C may bring about gum disease. Other conditions and diseases may arise, such as swollen limbs, anemia, abnormal heart function, loss of weight and appetite, while the body’ s immunity is also put at risk. Nutritional Needs of Parents Nutritional support has been used in many hospitals to provide the nutritional substrates required for the facilitation of all the biological processes of healing and inflammation (Joshi 2008). Nutrition Support Service, NST, a scientific and professional organization is charged with the role of providing quality metabolic and nutrition support within health care. It reviews the literature, makes necessary changes in protocols, procedures, and policies and educates other health care team members on any advances in nutrition support. Recently, scientists have realized that malnutrition has got very serious negative outcomes on patient recovery as it affects immunity, all organ systems, and mental and muscle function.
This will ultimately result in increased mortality, morbidity, period, and cost of convalescence (Joshi 2008). There have been advances in medical sciences but malnutrition remains a problem for hospitalized patients. A correlation exists between poor patient outcome and malnutrition. Various patients have differing nutrition and diet needs. In post-operational patients, the aim is to achieve normal body weight, through fat deposition, muscle formation, and the achievement of a positive nitrogen balance (Stanfield & Hui 2010). The nutritional support should also aim to replace lost tissue, such as blood, bone, muscle, and skin that may have been lost during surgery. Plasma protein, which provides important components used in the synthesis of antibodies, albumin, and enzymes among others, may be lost through loss of fluids or blood. It also speeds the healing process of wounds. Inadequate nutrition delays tissue rebuilding process prevents wounds from quick healing and may even cause muscle weakness and edema. Those undergoing treatment because of burns are also in dire need of good nutrition to repair lost tissue. University of Rochester Medical Centre (2014) advises that they need to replace lost energy, proteins, and lean body mass. Proteins are usually lost through the burn wounds, and since the body requires energy, muscles are broken down for the extra energy. The diet should have a high content of proteins to aid in muscle rebuild. Carbohydrates on the other hand are broken down into glucose, which is used for energy for the burn wounds, while fats provide extra calories and essential fatty acids.
The diet however should not have too many fats as they tend to weaken the immune system. For the elderly, the nutrition requirements are much more serious. Victorian State of Government Information (2010) observes that they may be experiencing side effects due to their illnesses or the type of medication they are receiving like loss of appetite, swallowing disorders, cognitive impairment, anxiety, and even depression. Good nutrition will impact positively on maintaining their skin healthy, reverse weight loss, heal wounds, and fight infections.
Their diets should have higher contents of energy, nutrients, and proteins. For those with diabetes, the NST must be particularly careful with their nutrition due to the imbalance between the demand and supply of insulin. Their nutrition should aim to attain optimal metabolic results through keeping blood pressure, glucose levels, and serum lipid profiles as normal as possible while treating and preventing chronic complications that may arise (Munden 2013). Some carbohydrates have been observed to produce higher levels of glucose than others, thus patients need close individual monitoring to determine the best nutritional diets for them. For children, they may be at a higher risk of infections due to poor immunity as a result of the illness and medication. Just as underfeeding, overfeeding could also have negative consequences on the child, as too much fat may also interfere with the recovery process (Koletzko et al. 2008). They require a wholesome diet, comprising of carbohydrates for energy, proteins for rebuilding body tissues, and vitamins to speed the healing process and prevent re-infection. Of concern are children who are having bouts of diarrhea as they need to replace the fluids by having adequate amounts of water and other fluids to prevent dehydration. Good nutrition is essential for the human body, with or without illness. Bad nutrition affects an individual’ s general development and functionality of the body.
During illness, different people require different nutrition diets to aid in recovery, replace and rebuild lost tissue and regain lean body mass as well as prevent re-infection.
Baillie, L 2014, Developing practical nursing skills, 4th edn, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL.
Koletzko, B, Cooper, P, Makrides, M, Garza, C, Uauy, R, & Wang, W 2008, Paediatric nutrition in practice, S. Karger, Basel, Switzerland.
Munden, J 2007, Diabetes mellitus: A guide to patient care, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Ambler, PA.
Sizer, F & Whitney, E 2013, Nutrition: Concepts and controversies, Cengage Learning, Independence, KY.
Stanfield, P & Hui, YH 2010, Nutrition and diet therapy: Self-instructional approaches, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Ontario, CA.
University of Rochester Medical Centre 2014, Kessler Burn & Trauma Centre, viewed 1 March 2014, http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/burn-trauma/burn-center/nutrition.cfm
Victorian Government Health Information, 2010, Best care for older people everywhere: Minimizing functional decline of older people in hospital, viewed 1 March 2014, http://www.health.vic.gov.au/older/toolkit/05Nutrition/