Following a well-balanced diet is crucial for staying healthy and preventing disease. However, when you have a chronic health condition, the role of nutrition gains even more importance and becomes a vital element in managing it.

“When we talk about keeping chronic diseases (such as diabetes and heart conditions) under control, there is always a lot of emphasis on the correct use of medications. Although that is very important, it doesn’t cover the full picture. Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in keeping us healthy, even when we have chronic conditions,” assures Dr. Jadeyra Rivas, medical service provision director for Triple-S Advantage.

Dr. Rivas stresses that many of the main chronic conditions are closely related to what we eat. So, any change that improves how we eat has positive consequences on our health.

What diet should we follow?

“As a nutritionist, I believe that the best eating pattern is one that provides you with the nutrients your body needs, in the amounts and portions that are right for you, always considering your health conditions. And, above all, it must take into consideration your tastes, preferences, and budget so that it is sustainable over time and it allows you to build a healthy lifestyle,” expresses Rosimar Ortega, nutritionist at Triple-S Advantage’s Preventive Care Management Department.

Without going into the merits of the different trendy diets currently available, Ortega “recommends focusing on following a complete diet where each food can be part of a healthy eating pattern if consumed in moderation, in adequate portions, and combined with physical activity.”

The nutritionist comments that, in light of the great and often inconsistent amount of information available, the best option to learn about how to improve our diet is to turn to reputable sources, such as the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medline Plus (from the federal Department of Health), MyPlate, and Eatright. “Other sources are organizations linked to conditions such as diabetes, heart, cancer, and kidney disease. For example, the Renal Council of Puerto Rico’s website includes videos on meal prep and the American Diabetes Association also covers this topic. The important thing is that they are reliable sources that base their information on scientific evidence,” affirms Ortega.

The Triple-S approach to nutrition

“In fact, for us at Triple-S, the link between nutrition and health is so strong that, in the older adult demographic (served by the MA plans and who are observed to have chronic conditions more frequently), an economic support benefit has been included so that members can purchase healthy food. In addition, we facilitate access to consultations with a nutritionist so that they can stay healthy and have a good quality of life,” states Dr. Rivas.

Ortega explains that a dietitian nutritionist “can help you understand the recommended amounts of all food groups and their health benefits. Taking into account your health conditions, tastes, and preferences, a nutritionist can design a personalized plan for you to eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle.”