b. To Improve Nutritional Deficiencies. Dietary surveys have shown that
approximately one third of the US population lives on diets with less than the optimal
amounts of various nutrients. Such nutritionally deficient persons are limited in physical
work capacity, immune system function, and mental activity. They lack the nutritional
reserves to meet any added physiologic or metabolic demands from injury or illness, or to
sustain fetal development during pregnancy.
c. To Maintain, Increase, or Decrease Body Weight. Despite the growing
interest in physical fitness, one out of every four Americans is on a weight reduction diet.
Only 5 percent of these dieters manage to maintain their weight at the new lower level
after such a diet. The basic cause is an underlying energy imbalance: more energy intake
as food than energy output as basal metabolic needs and physical activity. Being
underweight is a less common problem in the US. It is usually associated with poor living
conditions or long-term disease. Resistance to infection is lowered and strength is
reduced. Other causes for a person being underweight are self-imposed eating disorders,
malabsorption resulting from a diseased gastrointestinal tract, hyperthyroidism, and
increased physical activity without a corresponding increase in food intake.
d. To Alleviate Stress to Certain Organs or to the Whole Body.
(1) When loss of teeth or dental problems make chewing difficult, a dental soft
diet may be used. All foods are soft-cooked, meats are ground and sometimes mixed with
gravy or sauces.
(2) Peptic ulcer is the general term given to an eroded mucosal lesion in the
central portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Little is understood about its underlying
causes. The prime objective in medical management is to provide psychologic rest and
support tissue healing. Three factors form the basis of care: drug therapy, rest, and diet.
The bland diets used in the past for treatment of peptic ulcer have proved to be ineffective.
Positive individual needs and a flexible program of a regular diet, including good food
sources of dietary fiber, milk, and other protein foods prevail today.
(3) General functional disorders of the intestine may be caused by irritation of
the mucous membrane. Symptoms vary between constipation and diarrhea. Dietary
measures are designed to provide optimal nutrition and regulate bowel motility. There
should be additional amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The fiber content
may need to be decreased during periods of diarrhea or excessive flatulence.
(4) Organic diseases of the intestine fall into three general groups: anatomic
changes, malabsorption syndromes, and inflammatory bowel disease with infectious
(a) Diverticulosis is an example of anatomic changes. Current studies
and clinical practice have demonstrated that diverticular disease is better managed with a
high-fiber diet than with restricted amounts of fiber used in former practices.