Understanding medical nutrition therapy

August 16, 2023

Evidence-based nutrition strategies and counseling can help people manage their chronic health conditions via a personalized diet

Dietitian looking at a computer.

It’s general knowledge that all of us benefit from having a healthy diet. But for those dealing with a serious and/or chronic medical condition — such as digestive disorders, heart disease, diabetes, food allergies, and more — it is particularly important to choose foods that help them manage it. Medical nutrition therapy, a form of nutritional counseling provided by a registered dietitian, can help people manage their conditions while preventing and minimizing symptoms and potential complications.

In a recent article in the publication HealthCentral (written by Barbara Brody), Levi Teigen, PhD, RD, assistant professor in the U of M’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Department of Food Science and Nutrition, shares his insights on medical nutrition therapy along with Jessica Sylvester, RD, founder of the Florida Nutrition Group.

Levi Teigen.
Levi Teigen


What is medical nutrition therapy? Simply put, says Teigen, medical nutrition therapy uses evidence-based nutrition strategies and counseling provided by a registered dietitian to help manage chronic health conditions. “Medical nutrition therapy is diagnosis specific, so someone with celiac disease should expect to get different guidance than someone with type 2 diabetes would,” he said. He notes that it’s also personalized, as many people have more than one health issue. “Not to mention an array of personal food preferences and lifestyle habits; all of these factors need to be considered by the dietitian who is advising you.”

Learn more about what to expect during medical nutrition therapy and who can benefit from it in the HealthCentral article. “Ideally, medical nutrition therapy would be part of an interdisciplinary treatment plan for nearly every medical condition,” said Teigen.