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  • Nutrition

Nutrition and you

Whether you’re a patient, carer, healthcare professional or just want to learn more about the impact of nutrition and diet on health, here’s where you’ll find useful and practical advice and information.

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Adult Malnutrition

Malnutrition occurs when the body is not getting enough of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and can develop if a person stops eating properly, or if the body needs more nutrients than normal (e.g. due to infection). Malnutrition can have an impact on both physical and mental health; symptoms include weight loss, tiredness and a lack of energy.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, is a term used to describe conditions that involve inflammation of the gut and affects about 240,000 people in the UK.1 The two main types of IBD are ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). Both are long-term conditions whose treatment and management require careful nutritional therapy.2 The initial onset of IBD can occur at any age and is most common in Caucasians.2

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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition, and about 1 in 2,500 children are born with it each year in the UK.1 It affects the internal organs, particularly the lungs and pancreatic duct, which become clogged with mucus. People with cystic fibrosis are prone to chest infections, and other consequences may include poor growth, diabetes and infertility. Symptoms usually become apparent in infancy (but may not be detected until later). They typically include a troublesome cough, recurrent chest infections, diarrhoea or abnormal stools, or poor weight gain.1

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Respiratory Disorders

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It’s a term used for a number of conditions affecting the lungs, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, resulting in narrowing of the airways.1 People with COPD have trouble breathing, and other symptoms include coughing, excess phlegm and shortness of breath.2

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Cancer

Cancer is a result of the uncontrolled growth of cells in the human body. It will affect around 1 in 2 people in the UK,1 with long-term outcomes largely dependent on the type of cancer, and how early it is detected and treated. People with cancer are at risk of not obtaining the nutrition they need, which may be the result of the disease itself, or side effects of common treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.2 It can also cause a loss of appetite and alter dietary needs.2 Potential side effects of cancer may include a change in the body’s ability to break down and utilise carbohydrates, protein and fat.2 Cancer treatment side effects can also lead to a dry or sore mouth, changes in how food tastes, and feeling sick, which can all affect food intake.2

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Surgery

Malnutrition is a common problem among patients undergoing surgery, and it is associated with post-operative complications and increased length of stay in hospital.1 Obtaining adequate nutrition before and after surgery is therefore vitally important for a number of reasons. Undernutrition can weaken the immune system, which could lead to complications such as a chest infection. It can also cause tiredness and/or depression, which can lead to decreased mobility. Nutritional support can reduce post-operative complications and time spent in hospital.2

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Gastrointestinal (GI) Intolerance

Gastrointestinal (GI) intolerance is much more common than food allergy and has distinctly different causes and symptoms.1 GI intolerance happens when the digestive system cannot process some foods, causing discomfort.1 Unlike a food allergy, it does not involve an immune system reaction - in fact, people with GI intolerance can usually tolerate small amounts of these foods without experiencing any uncomfortable symptoms.1

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Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Insufficiency

The pancreas plays an important role in the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients by secreting digestive enzymes that help to break down food.1 It also secretes hormones that regulate how energy is stored and used by the body. Both pancreatitis and pancreatic insufficiency frequently result in under-nutrition due to a reduced dietary intake, poor digestion and low absorption of nutrients from food.

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