Diet therapy, what is it and how is it applied?

The World Health Organization has stated that six out of ten diseases are linked to our diet . In a society that is increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining adequate nutrition, diet therapy plays a leading role in helping us improve our quality of life and fight disease.

What is diet therapy?

Diet therapy is a discipline that belongs to the field of dietetics. It focuses on the study of the optimal combination of nutrients and the identification of the key aspects to prevent, treat or cure some diseases .

Diet therapy helps people stay more physically and mentally active, promoting a balanced and varied selection of foods that not only gives them the energy and nutrients they need, but also allows them to take care of their health.

History of diet therapy

Diet therapy has its origins in ancient Greece , with the study of medicine. Aristotle , for example, valued the importance of proper nutrition and considered that diet was essential to defeat disease and maintain a healthy biological balance. Hippocrates also developed different theories about the functioning of the human body and considered that dietary treatment was essential for health. He believed that the goal was to achieve a balance between exercise, food and drink.

Later, Galen deduced that the fragmentation of food occurs in the stomach and pointed out that eating and drinking were key aspects of maintaining good health, along with the environment, physical exercise, sleep hygiene, and sensations and emotions.

In the Middle Ages, dietetics was already part of the medicine of the time, although it was given a preventive function. Avicenna highlighted the importance of diet therapy, pointing out that most diseases were caused by errors in the diet and mentioned the changes that food triggered in the body, both in quality and quantity, analyzing their different functions on health and as agents disease-causing. To this Persian doctor we owe concepts such as the digestibility and nutritional value of food.

However, the greatest advances in the history of diet therapy occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries , especially thanks to the contributions of chemistry and medical physiology, which made it possible to explain the fundamental principles of nutrition and the relationship between diet and the health/disease process. You might be interested in more articles on our site.

types of diet therapy

  • preventive diet . It focuses on reducing the risk of suffering from different diseases by promoting a series of healthy eating habits that require an adequate redistribution of nutrients to optimize the functioning of the metabolism. Such is the case of a low-sugar diet to prevent the onset of diabetes or a reduced salt intake to prevent the development of hypertension. Among the objectives of this diet therapy are also to maintain optimal body weight and metabolic values ​​within normal parameters.
  • essential diet. It acts when the disease appears, using food as the main tool to combat it, counteract its symptoms and promote healing as much as possible. In this case, diet therapy is the basis of treatment , which is why it is usually common in cases of food intolerances, nutritional insufficiencies and certain allergies.
  • palliative diet. The diet is used together with the conventional treatment plan to alleviate the symptoms of the disease or delay its progression , so that it becomes a complement. Such is the case of diets for kidney or liver diseases, diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome. This type of diet therapy is also applied to alleviate the adverse effects of certain treatments, such as nausea caused by chemotherapy.