Why would an Austin urologist offer wellness and nutritional services? (An interview with the Director of Nutrition)

April 14, 2021

Dr. Shaw and his team at Austin Urology Institute take an integrative approach to urology by combining different aspects of care, including medication, hormone therapy, innovative new tools, nutritional guidance, and lifestyle factors. Expanding from our core Austin urology services makes treating those urological conditions more effective.

Here is a Q&A with the Director of Nutrition at Austin Urology Institute:

Q: As a nutritionist, what can you do for Urology patients?

A: There are so many conditions in urology that could absolutely benefit from nutritional guidance. A nutrition plan can be tailored to the person and their condition so that the needed vitamins and nutrients are abundant, and the foods that could cause additional detriment are removed. This can help improve urological conditions and symptoms, and even reduce the risk of the issue returning. 

For example, in the cases of overactive bladder or chronic UTIs, it is so important to discuss potential bladder irritants in what we ingest. A nutritionist can help the patients identify parts of their diet that could be triggering, as certain parts of their diet may be causing or exacerbating their symptoms. Simply swapping for other foods could alleviate or lessen their symptoms.

Another situation could be involving kidney stones. Did you know there are 4 different types of stones, and different foods can either help break down the stones, stop their formation, or, conversely, make them bigger or worse? A nutritionist can give those patients specific instructions on what to include in their diet to help break down the stones, and avoid foods that cause new growth.

Patients who present with diabetes or renal (kidney) disease may not be able to tolerate certain medications or treatments that filter through the kidneys. Therefore, eating in a way that removes additional strain on the kidneys and gives them the nutrients they need to function their best will give a better result for the patient all around.

Working in Urology, we also see many men present for either low testosterone or erectile dysfunction. Patients may be unaware that there are certain vitamins and nutrients in different foods that can cause a natural increase or decrease in our body’s ability to produce testosterone. Adjusting the diet not only makes treatment work better, but can lessen your chances of needing it long term. This is an important conversation to have when it comes to fertility and sperm count in men, as well.

Another example, which I consider one of the most critical uses of nutritional health – is regarding our patients with prostate or renal cancer. Diet and lifestyle factors are often directly linked to the progression and risk factor in many cancer cases, and as a nutritionist, I feel it is my duty to arm patients with the knowledge of what will help and what can cause further progression in their cancer.

These are just a few cases in which a nutritionist joining the patient’s care team can help, but I want to make a point that diet and lifestyle factors can absolutely either negatively or positively affect many urological issues.

Q: What are some of the most common misconceptions you see about nutrition used in medicine?

A: Many people have been, through no fault of their own, conditioned to think that just lowering your calories into a deficit or removing entire foods groups to keep your weight down is the best thing you can do for your health. While maintaining a healthy waistline is proven to be beneficial to your internal health in several ways, size alone does not mean your body is or isn’t getting what it needs. The idea that the source of one’s calories doesn’t matter couldn’t be further from the truth. I usually go for the analogy, “you wouldn’t expect your vehicle to function very well if it wasn’t getting the right kind or right amount of fuel, right?”

This is the idea that I want to teach our patients about their own body. It is so important to get enough of the right nutrient dense foods that allow their body to function at its peak, while limiting the foods that limit our livelihoods. We want plates full of colorful veggies, healthy sources of fats, lean proteins, and nourishing whole grains to give our body the right ‘fuel’ that it needs.

Another misconception that I hear falls into lines of “this is what I’ve always done” and the “it is what it is” mentality. Change can be intimidating and difficult to achieve, especially when going at it alone. That being said, I fully believe that people are much less likely to stick to things that they don’t like doing or are too difficult, so I take extra care to cater my patient’s plan to them in a way that is easy and makes sense. The goal I have for each of my patients is that after a while of eating in a way that is so beneficial for their health, they will see how easy it is to feel so good internally that proper eating habits become second nature. They then have the opportunity to be good influences for their loved ones and families, creating traditions of mindful and health-benefiting food choices. 

Q: What’s the one big message regarding nutrition that you want all of our readers to walk away with after reading this?

A: Of course this is not always the case, but more times that we realize medical issues can be traced back to how and what we eat and how we live our lives. The customary patterns of eating and lifestyle in our country have led to population-wide consequences, such as increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and, in terms of urology, higher risks of kidney stones and renal issues, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and prostate cancer, among other things.

However, it’s never too late to learn. Small changes in your diet can make massive changes in your health. My mission is to help improve your condition along with your medical team, and help improve your quality of life by teaching you how to put “better fuel in the tank”.


If you are interested in nutrition services, you can schedule a consultation by calling us at 512-694-8888 or submitting a contact form online.