Chronic Illness: Nutritional Concerns

Photospin.com/David Castillo Dominici Chronic Illness

By Karen Chapman-Novakofski

Many chronic illnesses are associated with diet modifications, such as in diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.  In other chronic illnesses, the nutritional issues may not be as clear.  Let’s look at arthritis and gout.

Gout is inflammatory arthritis where uric acid crystalizes in the joints, causing pain and swelling. In gout, there are dietary guidelines to help decrease the likelihood of a gout flare-up.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following during a gout flare-up:

  • Drink 8 to 16 glasses of fluid each day with at least half being water (4 to 8 glasses).
  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Limit animal foods, such as meat, and instead choose eggs, low-fat or non-fat dairy, tofu, and nut butters.

The first two suggestions should be continued during remission.  High protein diets should be avoided.  Since overweight and obesity are often associated with gout, achieving a healthy weight may help ease the stress on joints.

A recent study at VA Medical Centers in Birmingham and Philadelphia found that fear of pain was a motivator for both medication adherence and lifestyle changes.  Having a positive attitude also helped. Sometimes talking to a support group or friends can help with a positive attitude. Sometimes we need professional advice. Your registered dietitian can help identify barriers and strategies to barriers for a lifestyle change. Achieving goals, however small, can greatly improve attitude.

Avoiding alcoholic beverages can be difficult in social situations. These may be internal barriers, such as wanting a drink or not wanting to appear different.  Perception of social pressure can also be daunting.  Try these tips:

  • Explain your watching your waistline. People often are very supportive of weight management efforts.
  • Choose club soda with a slice of lime.
  • No or low alcohol beer is usually available.
  • Talk to someone before going to the social event, so you have at least one supporter.

Coping with chronic illness can lead to depression when coping skills are stretched. Dietitians specializing in Behavioral Health have training and experience addressing pain, depression and other mental illnesses in relation to their disease management and nutritional well-being.

Although certain foods or supplements are touted as being beneficial for pain or mood management, be careful not to be too gullible. Extreme claims about a specific food or supplement is cause for caution.  The National Institutes for Health have tips for those searching the web for health advice as does the US National Library of Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration.

 

References

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition Care Manual.

Singh JA, Herbey I, Bharat A, Dinnella JE, Pullman-Mooar S, Eisen S, Ivankova N.

Gout Self-Management in African-American Veterans: A Qualitative Exploration of Challenges and Solutions from Patients’ Perspectives. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Jan 24. doi: 10.1002/acr.23202

The Role of the Registered Dietitian in Behavioral Health. http://www.bhndpg.org/the-role-of-registered-dietitian-nutritionists-in-behavioral-health/

NIH. How to Evaluate Health Information on the Web. https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/How_To_Evaluate_Health_Information_on_the_Internet_Questions_and_Answers.aspx

US National Library of Medicine. Evaluating Health Information. tps://medlineplus.gov/evaluatinghealthinformation.html

FDA.  Health Information on the Web. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/BuyingMedicinesOvertheInternet/ucm202863.htm

This was posted by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebookon Twitterand LinkedIn.

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