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NMCCL Stories

News | Oct. 14, 2022

Proper nutrition can fuel performance and boost readiness for Camp Lejeune operational forces

By Michelle Cornell, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune

Proper nutrition is one of the key elements of good physical and mental health. So how does one sort through the overabundance of information to know what is healthy and effective? A dietitian can help get you started.

“Everything starts with nutrition,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Nelson H. Guadalupe, department head for Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune’s Nutrition Management Department. “No matter what your goal, proper nutrition is the starting point.”

In a society abundant with fad-diets, supplements, and social media influencers, weeding through the information on what defines proper nutrition can be extremely challenging. Dietitians can help you find what works.

A dietitian is a board-certified, medical specialist who develops a dietary plan to help you obtain your best potential and personal performance.

“One of the big things that people have to take into consideration is there is no one-size-fits-all plan for everybody; each individual is different,” said Guadalupe. “When we sit down with our patients, we take into consideration their lifestyle, medical history, age, and physical ability These all play a part when developing the dietary plan… our recommendations are developed using the latest science-based research in the industry.”

NMCCL currently has four dietitians in Nutrition Management. They develop dietary protocols for both inpatient and outpatient needs. According to Guadalupe, a portion of the department’s patient population seek information in the areas of cardiovascular health, diabetes management, inflammation reduction, trauma brain injury and other medical conditions.

There is also an abundance of inquiries for basic nutrition and health and wellness information. To meet the high demand, Guadalupe, who specializes in sports nutrition, teaches a Performance and Weight Management Sports Nutrition class twice a month. The class is popular among military members but is also beneficial for anyone looking to increase muscle mass, decrease body fat, lose weight, increase
performance and better their overall health.

“Our main focus is the readiness of our Marines and Sailors, preparing them for their PRT [Physical Readiness Test] and showing them how to fuel their performance and improve their health and wellness,” said Guadalupe.

The department has also observed an uptick in medical professionals seeking assistance with preventing burnout from the pandemic. A National Library of Medicine study from July 2021 shows a direct correlation between the consumption of healthy foods and low levels of burnout. Study results stated, “It has been reported that individuals suffering from burnout may be prone to emotional eating, and burnout may be associated with frequent usage of unhealthy food substances…moreover, self-reported healthy eating might be protective against burnout.”

Guadalupe hopes the findings will lead more medical professionals to seek out information in relation to engaging in healthier options and proper nutrition.

“The need for nutrition education is incredibly high, especially with the units stationed here at Camp Lejeune,” states Guadalupe. “I look at each Marine and Sailor as athletes in uniform. They can do all of the training in the world, but if they are not fueling their bodies properly, the training will not be effective.”

One of Guadalupe’s goals for the department is having dietitian professionals visit Marine Corps units directly to educate active-duty members on the link between nutritional health and readiness.

If you are a TRICARE beneficiary and interested in speaking with a dietitian, contact the Nutrition Management office at 910-450-4059 or speak with your Primary Care Physician for a referral.
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