Tele medicine: Role of nutritionists and dieticians during a health care crisis
Well-trained nutritionists can leverage technology to provide healthcare services via telephonic or video calls, emails, or instant chats
Nutrition plays an important role in the mental and physical health of an individual. Lack of vital nutrients can lead to a weak immune system, malnutrition, and other disorders. The nutritional status of a human body is measured by the food intake and absorption of nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies of energy, protein, and specific micronutrients are associated with low immune function and increased susceptibility to infection. For instance, a nutritional deficient newborn may have mild to serious learning cognitive disabilities, which further lead to poor physical and mental growth. Therefore, optimum nutrition, providing all the nutrients in the right quantity is the cornerstone of good health.
With the evolving technologies at our fingertips and the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, well-trained nutritionists, or registered dieticians play an important role in serving the residents. Introducing telemedicine! A method for providing healthcare services via technology such as video chat, telephonic, emails, or instant chats. Health experts can no more be limited to one country in an increasingly globalized world.
The role of tele dietitians and tele nutritionists is to prevent and control diseases and promote quality of life by encouraging proper nutrition i.e. choosing foods high in nutrients and low in calories.
Tele nutritionist uses scientific tools and approaches to evaluate an individual’s eating habits, food intake, lifestyle choices and create a personalized dietary plan while monitoring the calorie intake. Telehealth and nutrition counselling covers both the use of interactive, specialized dietary treatment for disease prevention, consultation, therapy, and nutrition plan. Nowadays, there are innovative techniques to identify body fat, Body Mass Index (BMI), Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR), and ideal weight.
Tele nutritionists suggest diet plans and offer personalized and efficient health services via different platforms to individuals from the comfort of their homes. Advancement in the latest technologies such as AI and ML and signal processing techniques are widely applied to many food safeties, awareness, and quality control programs. All these factors must be analyzed in-depth before a diet plan is drawn.
Due to the rapid advances in technology, even dieticians are branching out of the traditional office, clinical setting and offering virtual nutrition counselling services remotely. Dieticians can help prevent diseases through the importance of food in the diet, nutrition programs, meal planning and adequate knowledge about healthy and unhealthy foods. The need for proper guidance and a customized diet plan is essential because of several reasons such as chronic illnesses, different metabolism, lifestyle, calorie requirement, and activity level.
UPES School of Health Sciences offers specialisations in nutrition, dietetics, food biotechnology, food plant engineering and others. The demand for health experts and skilled professionals in these sectors was highlighted by the current pandemic. UPES School of Health Sciences covers all the fundamental, principle and advanced techniques of food analysis for quality food development and measurement. To build a knowledgeable nutritionist, dietitian, and food industry professional in the country, education in these sectors should focus on creating professionals equipped with knowledge and skills for upcoming technologies. UPES is committed to developing professionals and healthcare experts who will be active change-makers and solution providers for the healthcare sector.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, UPES School of Health Sciences)