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Diet Affects Colon Health

Katie Routh, Dietitian

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in cancers that affect men and women. The colon is the final part of your digestive tract. Since it’s part of the digestive system, the food you eat is an important factor in the health of your colon. Do you want to keep your colon healthy? 
• Eat a nutrient-dense diet
• Include more fiber-rich foods

Eating a nutrient-dense, high fiber diet not only keeps the walls of your colon strong, but it can also prevent hemorrhoids or pouches in your colon. Katie Routh, Ringgold County Hospital dietitian adds, “It also may prevent colon polyps, and potentially, cancer.” A typical American diet is low in nutrient density with larger portions of processed meats and refined grains, such as breads and cereals. “Our mid-western diet tends to be lower in nutritional value,” says Katie.

Fiber-rich foods, like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are also more nutrient-dense.
And the fiber keeps you regular and controls the amount of bacteria in your colon. “The nutrients in those foods also may be beneficial in preventing digestive diseases as well as other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and help you manage your weight,” says Katie. When increasing fiber in your diet, do it gradually, and drink plenty of water.

Katie Routh: Eating for good health

Katie Routh enjoys consulting with patients individually

Some people seem to grow up knowing what they want to do in life. According to Katie Routh, the dietician at Ringgold County Hospital, she is one of those people. “As a kid, I was always interested in nutrition,” she said. “When I was growing up, I baked and cooked a lot with my grandmother.”
A Ringgold County native, she thought about a career in nursing, but decided that the nutrition side of health care was where she wanted to focus. She has her Bachelor of Science in dietetics and is accredited through Iowa State University.

Being a dietician at a hospital involves visiting patients while they’re in the hospital. “I look at their lab work and their medications and help them get the nutrition they need while they’re in the hospital. I also help the dietary manager with menu planning and sign off on all the menus,” said Katie.  In addition to caring for people staying in the hospital, Katie does a lot of outpatient counseling. “I really like the counseling part of my job. I talk to people with diabetes, heart disease, and people who are interested in weight loss,” she said. The majority of her consultations are with diabetes patients. “Some have had the disease for years, but they’ve never really had any education on how their eating habits affect it. Some have just discovered they have diabetes and are trying to control it with better nutrition.”

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is the advice of nutritionists everywhere and Katie agrees. In winter, if you can’t find fresh, frozen is a good option. Growing your own vegetables is the best of all. “The healthiest people I know are gardeners!”

Katie has been in her position at RCH for just over two years. She came back to work after her third child was born. She is very practical when it comes to providing advice for good nutrition. “Follow the 80/20 rule,” she advises. “Be a healthy eater at least 80% of the time. Splurge on treats only 20% of the time. After a splurge, start right away again on eating well. But don’t feel like you have to eliminate any food forever. Just watch your portions.” She adds that eating well is really a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s a permanent change you can live with. “Just relax and make healthy choices!”

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