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The Standard American Diet and The Rise in Chronic Disease: How Aeroflow Health is becoming part of the solution.

Written by Sophie Lauver, MS, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC

Written by Sophie Lauver, MS, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC

Registered Dietitian for Aeroflow Health

Nutrition plays a significant role in health and Americans are becoming increasingly aware of its importance. The prevalence of chronic disease is forcing a shift in focus towards nutrition, giving rise to the ‘Food Is Medicine’ movement, into the spotlight as Americans look to avoid medications and take their health into their own hands. What we eat is directly tied to our health outcomes. However, there seems to be a lack of understanding about what foods in our diet are detrimental to our health.

The Standard American Diet is high in:

  • Saturated fat
  • Excess calories
  • Red meat
  • Sodium
  • Processed foods
  • Refined grains
  • Added sugars

The calorie-dense and nutritionally depleted nature of the Standard American Diet is a significant contributing factor to the over two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese. This diet also plays a significant role in the increase in chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Looking at the top ten leading causes of death in the US, heart disease and cancer are the top two. Type 2 diabetes, also on the list, is not far behind.

This dietary pattern is illustrated in a 2010 report from the National Cancer Institute showing that nearly the entire US consumes a diet that does not adhere to the current dietary recommendations. Over 75% of men and women of all ages were estimated to be eating a diet below the recommended intake of fruit and almost 90% of men and women were below the recommended intake of vegetables. These numbers come with great consequences. An unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S.

The Current Nutrition Landscape and Type 2 Diabetes

Thirty-eight million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes (90-95% being type 2 diabetes) another 1.2 million are diagnosed every year. For many patients, receiving a diabetes diagnosis can be life-changing. Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for comorbidities, or having multiple medical conditions at once. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke compared to someone without. High blood sugar, which is a key characteristic of diabetes, can damage your blood vessels and nerves over time. Uncontrolled diabetes and persistent high glucose levels can lead to blindness, amputations, kidney disease, sexual dysfunction, infections, and poor wound healing.

To prevent and effectively manage type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, nutrition education must be prioritized.. Unfortunately, the general lack of awareness and access to nutrition education only furthers the growing numbers of those living with chronic diseases.. Barriers like finances, insurance coverage and dietician availability all lend to the growing challenge for patients to receive the nutrition counseling they need. Additionally, those who are overweight or obese may have had negative experiences with a medical professional when discussing their weight and diet that has created a fear or stigma around discussing their health with a professional.

An Emerging Solution – Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medical nutrition therapy is an evidence-based, client-driven process for managing or treating medical conditions through nutrition. Medical nutrition therapy is delivered by a Registered Dietitian.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts who:

  • Have a minimum of a graduate degree from an accredited dietetics program
  • Complete a supervised practice requirement
  • Pass a national exam
  • Continue professional development throughout their careers.

This title ensures that the professional has adequate training and provides evidence-based interventions. Importantly, titles like “nutritionist” don’t require any specific education or training. The Registered Dietitian assesses a patient’s nutritional status, recommends dietary changes, and supports the patient through counseling strategies that promote long-term behavior change.

The Benefits of Medical Nutrition Therapy for a Patient with Type 2 Diabetes

Medical nutrition therapy and lifestyle intervention improve conditions like obesity, inactivity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Diabetes is a chronic disease where dietary and physical activity interventions can make a measurable impact. Type 2 diabetes can be well managed and even put into remission with quality diet and exercise.

For patients with diabetes, it may feel like there’s no right answer when grocery shopping, planning meals, and dining out. They may feel isolated from family and friends due to different dietary needs and may develop fears of food due to misinformation about certain food groups. Also, people who are overweight or obese often are assigned stigmas due to their weight and navigating day-to-day life in settings built for smaller-bodied people can be physically challenging.

Registered Dietitians partner with patients and help them achieve key habits including:

  • A diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, fiber, and plant foods
  • A diet low in saturated fat, sodium, and meat
  • Mild to moderate weight loss
  • 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity
  • Stress reduction
  • Familial, professional, and community support

Registered Dietitians meet patients where they are and help them work towards sustainable lifestyle changes. These changes are transformative for reducing the risk of disease complications and increasing quality of life. More insurance plans are covering medical nutrition therapy, making this life-changing service increasingly available.

Aeroflow Nutrition Services

At Aeroflow Health, we recognize the need for increased access to nutrition education and empower patients to support their health. Personalized medical nutrition therapy helps patients manage chronic disease and prevent complications in a way that works for their lifestyle. This growing gap in care spurred our teams to launch Aeroflow Nutrition Services.

Aeroflow Nutrition Services, initially targeting patients with type 2 diabetes, will simplify and support nutrition counseling by providing patients with access to a Registered Dietitian, often with zero out-of-pocket costs.

Patients will receive a transparent, compassionate customer experience from a Registered Dietitian. During sessions, detailed notes will be recorded and available for the patient’s complete medical team. Aeroflow’s team has a keen understanding of insurance that allows patients to utilize their full insurance benefits to their advantage. We remove the stress associated with finding a qualified Registered Dietitian who accepts their insurance plan. From the start, patients will be made aware of how many visits are covered and all care is also provided via telehealth, alleviating the need to travel to a provider’s office. Additionally, with Aeroflow Health’s network, patients can also get connected to additional products and supplies for diabetes, incontinence, blood pressure monitoring, sleep apnea, and wound care.

The program will expand to provide group medical nutrition therapy sessions, around topics such as introductory nutrition, heart health, and weight loss. Group-based sessions will allow patients to learn key nutrition concepts in a supportive and interactive environment of their peers with a Registered Dietitian facilitator. Aeroflow Nutrition Services’ next phase will expand to see patients with a variety of medical concerns, carrying out our mission of providing nutrition education to as many patients as possible.

To learn how Aeroflow Health can support your members and gain more insights, subscribe to our communications.
Sophie Lauver, MS, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC

Sophie Lauver, MS, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC

Sophie Lauver is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach passionate about helping people take control of their health and get excited about nutrition. Sophie has a Bachelor's degree in Communication from the University of Delaware and a Master’s degree in Dietetics from Eastern Michigan University. Sophie has worked in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, long-term care, rehabilitation, and wellness technology, and most recently, served as the director of the nation's largest diabetes prevention program. Sophie lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, infant son, and their two dogs and two cats. When she’s not working with clients, she enjoys cooking, not doing dishes, trying new restaurants, and spending time being active outside (especially on warm and sunny days).

Information provided on the Aeroflow Health blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow Health recommends consulting a doctor if you are experiencing medical issues or concerns.

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