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Nutrition

Individuals diagnosed with neurological conditions may be faced with some initial or ongoing challenges relating to maintaining a healthy nutritional intake for a number of reasons.

Some conditions, or the medications prescribed as part of the treatment, may cause changes in metabolism, eating behaviours, digestion and/or swallowing problems, for diet and/or fluids. Research shows many may be at risk of malnourishment as a result.

Whilst no specific diets have been proven to have a definite benefit for people diagnosed with neurological conditions, a healthy diet based on the WHO, Heart and Cancer Foundations recommendations provides a solid basis. These guidelines have overall general health benefits; maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing the risks of heart disease and diabetes by limiting the intake of saturated fats for example.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid, http:/nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/healthy-eating-pyramid provides a simple visual guide to the types and proportions of food we should aim to eat daily. There are five core food groups, plus healthy fats, recommended along with advice to drink water and limit salt and added sugar intake.

In an acute phase, for example during a hospital stay, you may require nutritional supplements through special fluids and this may be then recommended to supplement your diet at home.

Advice from an appropriate health professional, your GP and/or neurologist is advised as it is essential to help you stay as well as possible. There are beneficial dietary supplements that may be recommended at times to supplement your existing diet to maximise your nutrition status which is essential for a healthier body; reducing the risk of skin breakdown, assisting with healing etc.

If you experience difficulties due to symptoms such as fatigue or swallowing problems that reduce your dietary intake, or create risk of harm, you are advised to see a dietitian and/or speech therapist who can make recommendations to ensure you have the right amount of nourishment safely.

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