High fiber diets can be used to regulate the GI tract and help in normal elimination patterns. The majority of the fiber that is ingested does not digest and pulls water into the GI tract. High fiber foods include: uncooked fruit, vegetables, bran, oatmeal, and dried fruits.
Residue refers to the food that does not digest in the GI tract, primarily fiber. In a low residue or low fiber diet, the stool bulk is reduced. This diet is used in patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis.
Sodium restrictions can be seen in patients with heart failure, hypertension, renal disease, cirrhosis, and preeclampsia (toxemia of pregnancy). Healthcare providers will order sodium restriction to help decrease fluid overload when the body does not eliminate sodium freely.
A low cholesterol diet limits fats to 50 grams or no more than 30% of calories derived from fat and no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. This diet is often used with patients experiencing complications of the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas, as well as those with cystic fibrosis, and cardiac patients with hyperlipidemia.
Carbohydrates are composed of different forms of sugar, which contribute to elevated blood sugars. In patients that are diabetic, the amount of calories ingested at one time are controlled to decrease blood sugar spikes. Daily protein intake remains the same as for the general population, however, high protein diets are not recommended as a weight loss method for those with diabetes.
A renal diet is one that is low in sodium, phosphorous, protein and fluids. Due to decreased renal function, these electrolytes along with fluid are unable to be excreted properly resulting in fluid overload and electrolyte imbalance. Because proteins are broken down and their waste is removed by the kidneys through the urine, individuals with kidney disease including those requiring dialysis, will have a hard time ridding of protein and thus their diet must consist of the proper amount of protein requirements without furthering kidney dysfunction.
The dysphagia diet is recommended for patients at an increased risk of aspiration. This diet consists of liquid drinks are thickened to a consistency of nectar, honey, or spoon thick allow for easier swallowing. These patients are also encouraged to eat pureed food or mechanical soft food. This makes it easier to chew and swallow.
Some patients may not understand why a certain diet was ordered by the provider. It is the nurse's role to educate the patient and family members on the importance of eating a balanced meal. Managing a diet during a disease process will help prevent GI upset and allow for proper nutritional absorption.
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