Terminology and Diagnoses


Did you know that tomato products contain an antioxidant called lycopene that has been associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer?

Many foods and nutrients have associations with various types of cancer. While nutrition is very important for these preventative reasons, once an individual has been diagnosed with cancer, their nutrient needs become even more vital. The body may need more calories from healthy fat sources, proteins and carbohydrates, and may demand an increase in certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Additionally, cancer and the various treatments can cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, taste changes and even swallowing difficulties. Maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration can become challenging with these side effects.

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Cardiovascular disease includes numerous conditions of the heart, veins and arteries such as arteriosclerosis, angina, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias. CVD is the nation's leading killer among both men and women. Numerous behavioral factors have been identified and linked to an increased risk of heart disease, including: smoking, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition.

Cholesterol levels are commonly used to monitor heart health:

Total Cholesterol
<200 Desirable
200-239 Borderline High
>240 High

LDL Cholesterol
<100 Optimal
100-129 Near optimal/Above optimal
130-159 Borderline High
160-189 High
>190 Very High

HDL Cholesterol
<40 Low

>150 High

A healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and a balanced diet can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.


  • Type I Diabetes is typically diagnosed in children or young adults and is often called "juvenile diabetes." Individuals with Type I Diabetes do not produce insulin, the hormone necessary to convert sugar into energy for the body. Understanding your diet and how certain foods will affect your blood sugar levels is an invaluable tool in managing Type I Diabetes.
  • Type II Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. With this diagnosis, either a person's pancreas does not produce an adequate amount of insulin or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin being produced. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to damage of the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and even the heart. Nutrition and physical activity play a very important role in controlling blood sugar levels to prevent further complications.
  • Gestational Diabetes can occur in women who did not previously have diabetes, but have elevated blood sugar levels during their pregnancy. The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can affect the insulin hormone and lead to insulin resistance. Managing blood sugar levels with good nutrition is important for both the mom and the baby.

Digestive Disorders

The gastrointestinal tract is the host for numerous conditions and diseases. The foods you choose to consume have a huge impact on your digestive health. Individuals with any of the following disorders may want to learn more about proper nutrition to help alleviate symptoms:

  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic constipation
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Diverticulosis and diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN)- Treatment for both AN and BN often use a team approach including medical care, psychotherapy and nutrition counseling. Nutritious eating plans to achieve a healthy weight and to establish a sound relationship with food is vital in the treatment of both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)- This eating disorder is characterized by episodes of compulsive overeating or binges. Individuals often conduct their binges alone and very quickly and they tend to feel guilt or shame for these eating episodes. Nutrition counseling can assist in the development of a healthy relationship with food and can provide an understanding of the benefits of a moderate, varied, and balanced diet.

Food Allergies and Intolerances

People react differently to different foods and their bodies may tolerate some foods more than others. When a food allergy or intolerance is present, typically individuals are advised to avoid the food or ingredient of concern and may need to find substitutions to be sure they are not missing out on any valuable nutrients.

Common food allergies include:
peanuts, tree nuts, soybeans, eggs, fish or shellfish

Common intolerances or sensitivities include:
lactose- enzyme found in milk & other dairy products
gluten- protein found in wheat, barley & rye products

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Blood pressure can be classified in several categories:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80
  • Pre-hypertension: 120-139/80-89
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: 140-159/90-99
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: 160 and above/100 and above

Hypertension is becoming increasingly more common and while the exact causes may not always be clear, numerous factors have been identified as key players in its development including: genetics, stress, older age, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, obesity, and dietary sodium (salt) intake. It is important to be aware of how a healthy diet can affect your blood pressure.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS

A healthy and nutrient-dense diet is important for persons living with HIV to fight the disease and keep a strong immune system. Common problems associated with HIV/AIDS and the medications used to treat it include malnutrition, wasting, loss of weight, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and lipodystrophy. Proper nutrition can improve the quality of life of individuals with this virus.

Kidney Disease

Our kidneys play a very important role in metabolizing the foods we eat by removing waste products and fluid from the blood. When the kidneys are not functioning properly waste and fluid can build up in the blood. Individuals with kidney disease have to pay close attention to their diets. Fluid, protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus intakes are of particular importance.

Liver Disease

The liver processes all nutrients that enter the body and serves as a filter to protect the body from harmful substances. Individuals with liver disease have altered nutrient requirements and need to pay particularly close attention to the foods, beverages and medications or pills that they are ingesting. Certain nutrient deficiencies and excesses can be harmful to a compromised liver, so learning about individual nutrition needs is essential for a person with liver disease. Some common diseases of the liver include: Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Liver Cancer and Fatty Liver.

Oral Surgery

Following any surgery, nutrient needs are increased to promote healing. Oral and maxillofacial surgery patients often find it to be very challenging to meet their specific nutrient needs because of the difficulty with chewing and swallowing. These surgeries often result in significant loss of weight. Adequate nutrition and hydration typically requires altered food consistencies, nutrition supplements and detailed meal planning.


Gout is a form of arthritis resulting from a build-up of uric acid in the body. Uric acid levels can build up from excess purines in the diet. Therefore people with gout are often encouraged to limit intake of "high purine" foods. Organ meats, scallops, mackerel and herring are a few examples of food with high purine levels. In addition to a purine-restricted diet, individuals with gout benefit from maintaining a healthy weight because obesity has also been linked to increased uric acid levels.

Overweight and Obesity

The World Health Organization reports that over 1 billion adults are overweight and at least 300 million of them are classified as obese. The reason why these numbers are of such great concern is because individuals who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for numerous health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and various forms of cancer.

Weight status is typically classified by Body Mass Index (BMI), which measures body fat based on weight and height. The classifications are as follows:

  • Underweight: BMI <18.5
  • Normal weight: BMI 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: BMI 25-29.9
  • Obese: BMI >30

Pregnancy and Lactation

During pregnancy and lactation, good maternal nutrition is extremely important for mom's health and the health and development of the baby. The mother's body undergoes a variety of physiological changes which increase their needs for energy (calories), protein and various micronutrients. Find out more about the specific dietary changes you may need to make in order to assure that you are eating well for both you and your baby.

Spinal Cord Injury

Following spinal cord injury, numerous systems within the body are affected. Bowel habits, skin care and weight management become nutrition-related concerns. Paralyzed individuals are at increased risk of skin breakdown and require additional protein and specific micronutrients. The decrease in physical activity can lead to osteoporosis, muscle breakdown and excess adipose tissue. Spinal cord injured individuals are also at an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Nutrition is extremely important during both the acute and chronic phases of spinal cord injuries.