Many of us may not think too long and hard about the impact our diet has on our health and wellness. But, our diet nourishes our body and plays a huge role in our overall health. We need to eat nutritious foods so that our bodies can grow, repair and function at its best.
Can Chiropractors Give Nutritional Advice
It may or may not come as a surprise to learn that chiropractors complete some nutritional education, and can give nutritional advice. A chiropractor’s nutritional education includes nutrition fundamentals, digestion, macronutrients (the nutrients we need in larger quantities that provide us with energy), micronutrients (including vitamins and minerals) and nutrient-nutrient interactions. This training is intended to be used alongside our primary training, just as other physical therapeutic modalities are intended. Here’s why nutrition is an important aspect for us to consider when assessing a patient's clinical condition.
The Holistic Chiropractic Approach
When we consider health, we need to have a holistic approach. The food we eat and our nutritional intake/utilisation of nutrients affects us throughout our entire lifespan. Moreover, an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic disease. For example, high salt, high fat and excess energy intake are associated with around 50% of the chronic burdon disease, including obesity and diabetes. While chiropractors are not a replacement for advice from a qualified dietician/nutritionist, it is important for us, as all health professionals involved in a person’s health management, to promote a healthy balanced diet. Chiropractors as other primary contact professionals have an important role in identifying any modifiable risk factors in chronic disease patients as a part of their management. If you are thinking of making some modifications in your diet to lead a healthier lifestyle but are unsure of where to start, make sure you check out our wonderful nutritionist, Perri’s latest article on choosing the right diet for your lifestyle.
Managing Inflammation with Nutrition and Chiropractic
Chiropractors are often managing people who may be suffering with inflammation. Manual therapy along with other treatment modalities are used to assist the body to reduce soft tissue swelling, improve movement and alter biomechanical stressors. It is well known that diet can cause inflammation – think fried food, refined carbohydrates, processed meats, soft drinks, etc. Consuming these types of foods regularly creates an increased risk factor of weight gain, which in itself is a risk for inflammation. Asking some basic questions about a person's diet can provide valuable insight into what may be happening internally that may be contributing to their current condition. Chiropractic nutrition advice may include simple suggestions and modifications that may be implemented into the treatment plan to support long term therapeutic outcomes. For example, limiting the quantity of processed foods (such as those listed above), increasing fruit and vegetable intake and eating a variety, particularly those high in natural antioxidants such as leafy greens, berries, fish and nuts.
Food Affects Your Mood
Within our gut, we all have what's called the ‘gut microbiome’. Within this microbiome there are a diverse range of microorganisms – such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that coexist peacefully. The brain and the gut microbiome communicate using complex nerve, inflammatory and hormonal signaling pathways. There is continuous research emerging to support how the gut microbiome affects mood, including change in the behaviour of rodents due to changes in gut microbiome. Moreover, some research has found a link to depressive disorder in humans being associated with alterations in the gut biome.
The effects of certain foods on blood sugar, immunity, and the gut microbiome may play an important role in the relationship of food and mood. Healthy eating patterns, including vegetables, fruits, healthy oils, wholegrains, legumes and beans, such as in the Mediterranean diet, are associated with better mental health than “unhealthy” eating patterns. Eating a healthy balanced diet can make us feel better, manage stress better and have improved sleep quality which are all important for managing and treating pain.
If you feel like you may be able to make some changes to your diet to improve your current pain condition, reach out and ask your chiropractor or musculoskeletal health professional. If they feel you need a little more assistance, they will make sure you are referred to the right practitioner to help you achieve your best health outcomes.
Dr Naomi Erickson, Associate Chiropractor
Klimova, B., Novotny, M., & Valis, M. (2020). The Impact of Nutrition and Intestinal Microbiome on Elderly Depression—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 12(3), 710. doi: 10.3390/nu12030710
Firth, J., Gangwisch, J., Borsini, A., Wootton, R., & Mayer, E. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?. BMJ, m2382. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m2382