Nutrition Status Assessment
What is nutrition status assessment?
Nutrition status is the conditioning of your body through nourishment. It is one of the important indicators of health, as the diet is the main source of nutrients for our body’s essential functions. Because there is no single test that accurately and reliably reveals the full nutritional state of a person, a combination of strategies are used by a dietitian who has the knowledge, experience, and skills in assessing this area of health.
Why is it important to know your nutritional status?
Your nutrition requirements change with age, as well as from influences such as stress, disease, exercise, and other factors when the body may require less or more nutrients. At times, your diet may be of good nutritional quality but your body may not absorb or metabolize (process) nutrients effectively. Many nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, as well as sodium and potassium maintain close interrelationships with each other. Large excesses in one (sometimes achieved from supplements) or shortage in others, can alter or tip the balance and performance of the ‘partner’ nutrient(s) in their excretion, absorption, and other functions. Over a longer horizon, such nutritional problems can build up silently due to the amazing ability of our body to mask its effects.
Nutrient reservoirs in various parts of our bodies act as buffers from which our body can draw when it is in short supply, quietly depleting the stores. As we age, our body’s ability to return nutrients back to the stores is not as effective. Persistent shortfalls and excesses may not be picked up easily from blood tests early in the cycle (unless we measure the supply of our stores, which is difficult to do). Eventually, problems manifest in the form of clinical signs, altered levels of nutrients in the blood and tissues, feeling unwell, and disease. For example, when our diet is low in calcium, the body will draw (demineralize) from its plentiful supply in the bones. Persistent low calcium levels in the diet will eventually weaken bones making one prone to osteoporosis and fractures. Similarly, the body stores excess levels of vitamin A. Prolonged periods of very high levels of vitamin A have been shown to be toxic resulting in symptoms that include nausea, headaches, and hair loss.
In a nutshell, excellent nutrition offers protection against risk of disease, and is associated with good health, well-being, and peak performance. Poor nutrition on the other hand is linked to feeling unwell (such as lethargy, tiredness, and irritability), impaired cognitive function, anemias, and chronic diseases such as heart, diabetes, cancer, and strokes.
How is nutritional status assessed?
To get a complete picture of your nutrition health, we use a combination of strategies. A thorough evaluation consists of:
- Nutrition and health history that includes a physical examination for clinical signs of nutritional issues. This is an essential starting point for your dietitian to evaluate how important factors such as any medical conditions you may have, medicines you are taking, hereditary health concerns in the family, and your lifestyle (diet, stress, physical activity, social) impact your nutritional needs.
- Anthropometrics (physical body measurements)
- Body composition analysis
- Diet analysis for quality and adequacy of your nutrition intake
- Nutritional bio analysis (laboratory analysis of your body tissues such as blood, nails, hair, as well as fluids such as urine), for specific nutrients and their metabolites
- Other functional assessment as required
Each of these pieces fits together like a jig-saw puzzle to produce the best possible portrait of your overall nutrition health.
Who can benefit from nutrition status assessment?
Everyone, young and old will benefit from a personalized nutrition status assessment by a dietitian skilled in this body of work to establish a proper baseline of your nutrition health.
The earlier in your lifecycle you document your personal baseline, the better it is for you. It will help you to monitor changes and progress in your health using personal data at different periods or phases in your life. You will have the ability to intervene more effectively early in the chain of events before they become full-blown health problems.
Is it necessary to have a full analysis?
Different examinations convey different pieces of information. Depending on your goals and priorities, you may combine some, or all of these analyses to give you the most relevant advantage for your needs. Your dietitian can work with you to craft a customized program, determine which tests to undergo and understand their interpretation.
For more information on each of these evaluations, see the specific services tab.
Get proactive. Invest in, and protect your most important asset – YOUR HEALTH!