Researcher Develops App to Help Kidney, Heart Disease Patients Manage Diets

For many living with heart and kidney diseases, taking care of their health includes managing their diets to suit medical recommendations that restrict the consumption of some nutrients. While this might be easy for some, a majority find it hard to follow these recommendations without tracking their nutrition through the day.

To help with this, assistant professor and nephrologist Dr. Ibrahim Elali has created DecideDiet. This free smartphone app allows patients to manually record or scan the bar code of the food they are about to eat. The app automatically evaluates the potassium, or sodium content, of the food item then rates it either red, yellow or green.

The app is designed to especially support individuals living with chronic diseases, to help relieve some of the burden of monitoring these ailments.

Users of the app should strive to eat no less than 75% of foods rated green while avoiding consumption of those rated red. The system helps users not only on an everyday basis but also over a period of time by learning to steer clear of foods with high potassium and sodium.

Elali explains that it usually takes about six months for an individual to adapt to a low-salt diet. To help with tracking food intake, the “basket” on the app documents the food entered into the system throughout the day and over the course of one- to three-month period.

Additionally, the app could possibly be used to carry out a conversation between patients and their health-care providers. Questions concerning their diet can easily be posed and the availability of data on their nutrition and the ability to simply share the information between devices only makes it easier for healthcare providers to provide more accurate information.

Other nutrition apps focus mostly on weight loss and counting calories, which leaves a niche in the market for the app to fill.  Elali credits the idea for the app to the interactions he had with his own patients.

Typically doctors give patients a pamphlet about dietary recommendations and count on the patients to read food labels and track their food intake themselves. The app makes this easier, and considering 81% of grown-ups are smartphone users, the app is also accessible for a majority of those living with chronic heart and renal diseases. Its digital approach allows patients to take ownership of their care and makes them feel more involved.

However, DecideDiet has no data about the phosphorous content in foods. This is mainly due to the lack of requirements by the FDA for companies to report phosphorous on nutritional labels, as they are required to do with potassium and sodium.

On the whole though, DecideDiet has the potential to positively influence how patients and doctors approach the care of certain conditions, making it an innovative and useful tool to have.

An interesting company to watch closely is CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP). This clinical-stage biotech firm focuses on developing treatments for metastatic and primary cancers, especially those afflicting the central nervous system and the brain.

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