The Pulse | Thursday, January 9, 2020
Love Your Liver: The Role of Food in Liver Disease
The SGNA 47th Annual Course is just a few months away and with more than 100 educational sessions, this is a great way to learn from experts, network and expand your knowledge. SGNA spoke with Paula Gallagher, MFN RD LD, on her upcoming session, “Love Your Liver: The Role of Food in Liver Disease.” Read on to learn about her session, and what to expect at this year’s conference.
What do you hope attendees learn from your Annual Course session?
Liver disease can be directly impacted by nutrition. There are so many dietary and lifestyle modifications that a person can make to slow the progression of liver disease. I think that it’s important for attendees to understand these modifications so they can help patients become a champion in their own health. My hope is that attendees leave my session with useful, practical and realistic suggestions they can pass on to their patients.
Why is a focus on liver disease important for yourself? Why should others find this important?
Liver disease is an important topic to me because it can be heavily impacted by nutrition. There is so much research suggesting that weight, dietary patterns and exercise can improve disease state. I believe that knowledge is power and it’s important that patients are given correct information regarding liver disease and diet.
I believe that knowledge is power and it’s important that patients are given correct information regarding liver disease and diet.
What made you choose this specialty?
This specialty chose me! I was working for a company and seeing all types of patients — from weight loss, to diabetes to renal disease. I was fortunate enough to see a few GI patients and I was able to make a connection with their gastroenterologist; the rest was history! I continued to see more and more GI patients, so I decided to leave my job and open a private practice where I office-share with that same gastroenterologist.
What do you want other GI nurses to be aware of moving forward?
Diet is SO important in the GI field. Sure, diet cannot fix every GI ailment, but it plays a significant role in many GI diseases. I think that it’s important for GI nurses to be aware of this, but to also have resources available for patients. These resources could be valid websites, useful handouts or even a list of GI dietitians for patients to consult with.
What role does food play in liver disease? Are there specific foods to avoid or include in your diet for prevention or repair?
Food, weight and exercise all play a role in liver disease. I am not typically one to preach what people shouldn’t eat — instead I focus on what they should eat. A person with liver disease should focus on eating more of a Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet is high in unsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, avocado, and seeds, and low in saturated fat found in processed foods and meats.
Do you have any advice for first-time Annual Course attendees?
Take notes and ask questions! You will be so overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the information presented and you will head home forgetting half of it if you don’t take notes.
Save the date for the SGNA Annual Course: May 17-19, in Louisville, Kentucky. Earn up to 34.25 contact hours with more than 85 educational sessions spanning eight different tracks.