So, you’re thinking about becoming a nurse. Or perhaps you’re a licensed practical nurse with an Associate’s and now want to obtain a Bachelor’s. In either case, did you know that nutrition plays a vital role in nursing? Keeping current on food is something every nurse should know how to do. It can be particularly important if you have a patient with a dietary restriction.
If you’re looking into returning to school, it’s vital to think about everything you want to ensure you learn. For one, learning about nutrition makes you a better nurse. Courses such as the University of Indianapolis accelerated BSN program provide you with all the tools you need for this exciting career. As a result, you can expect to learn about nutrition in a class such as Transition to Professional Nursing Practice. As you do your school research, look for schools that provide you with comprehensive training.
So, what do you need to know about nutrition as a nurse? Healthcare professionals always stress the importance of nutritious food to patients. When you eat well and regularly, it makes it easier for your body to function optimally. Additionally, it helps you recover from physical activity more quickly as well. Achieving optimal health doesn’t just mean the food you eat. It also means having access to fresh produce and preparing that food properly.
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the study of foods and their effects on the human body. It’s the science of providing the human body with the proper minerals and vitamins. Proper nutrition helps to sustain life and prevent disease. While it’s essential to have a healthy diet, nutritional needs change with age, gender and activity level.
A healthy diet includes a variety of foods so that your body gets vital nutrients. In turn, the food is broken down to become energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and fats that are essential for the health of cells, tissues and organs. As we know, the human body is a complex machine, so it requires the proper fuel to keep it going, and understanding nutrition is the key.
Why is nutrition so important to nursing?
Nutrition is crucial to health, and it’s a critical element in the prevention and treatment of disease. Nursing focuses on helping people reach their health and wellness goals. As a nurse, you should be familiar with nutrition’s role in achieving these goals.
In addition, a healthy diet provides beneficial nutrients that support healthy growth and development. Especially as people age, it helps prevent chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Finally, a diet of nutritious food helps decrease the risk of hospital-acquired infections, so in clinical settings, it improves patient outcomes.
How can nutrition be incorporated into your nursing practice?
There are many ways you can incorporate nutrition into your nursing practice. Whether working with an older adult or a child with a food allergy, you can use food to help your patients. Let’s look at how you can use nutrition to help your patients:
- If your practice includes working with older adults, it’s crucial to learn the basics of nutrition. You can begin by reading up on the nutrient content of foods. Also, you can start reading labels to learn about food allergies or dietary restrictions.
- Nutrition and food are essential in building a solid relationship with your patients. As a nurse, it helps to let patients know you can answer questions about their diet. Nurses work on the front lines, and patients trust them, so getting information from a nurse is valuable for patients.
- Allergies and intolerances are common in modern society, but they’re challenging for patients to manage. Nurses who know about nutrition can better guide and inform patients, and help patients with food allergies and intolerances plan for the future.
- Help patients with a special diet plan for future meals. If your patients have a food restriction that needs special attention, there are ways you can help. For example, if someone is vegetarian, you can advise the patient that beans and legumes are good sources of protein.
Improving patient population health with nutrition
Nutrition is vital to both physical and mental health. For promoting optimal health and wellness, it’s crucial to have a healthy diet. A healthy diet should include a variety of foods, so the body gets all the nutrients it needs. Eating a balanced diet with healthy portions and the right balance of nutrition is a great start. Patients need to know the diet requirements for their age, gender and activity level.
How food helps patients recover faster and feel better
Good nutrition can help patients recover from illness and surgery more quickly. A healthy diet includes quality foods that give a body the nutrients needed to function at its peak. Some great nutritious foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and low-fat dairy products. When you understand nutritious foods as a nurse, you can help your patients make healthy choices. When they’re not well, nutritious foods help them recover faster, which can help encourage patients to eat.
Tips for building your nutrition knowledge as a nurse
There are many ways you can use food to help your patients better understand their health and wellness. For instance, if you have a patient who’s an older adult that may have altered tastes, you can let the patient know you’re available to help them transition to a healthier diet. A patient with a food allergy or dietary restriction could benefit from your assistance with food choices and meal planning. Finally, don’t forget to stay informed of current research related to nutrition. It’s vital to remain at the forefront of nutrition trends. By incorporating your knowledge of food into nursing, you help to improve patient outcomes and promote population health.
Nutrition and nursing
Healthy food and nutrition have many benefits. These include improved health, a longer life span and a better quality of life. Quality nutrition also lowers the risk of certain diseases. In addition, good food can help people feel fuller and reduce the calories consumed daily. As a nurse with the proper knowledge and tools, you too can become an expert in the field of nutrition. By doing so, you provide patients with much better patient-centered and holistic care, and they’ll appreciate you even more!