How many times have you heard the phrase that you are what you eat? Nutrition is a significant element when it comes to your overall health. No matter what other medical treatments you might be receiving, what you eat has a major impact on their long-term success. This is particularly true for those receiving chiropractic care.
Your diet can significantly impact both your muscular and skeletal system. Choosing natural foods and products over processed versions can directly impact the outcome of your chiropractic care. You should take care when selecting your diet because you may be indirectly contradicting the work that is performed by your experienced chiropractor.
According to recent studies, chiropractors are more adamant about nutrition than ever before. In the United States, up to eighty percent of chiropractors surveyed used some form of nutrition counseling in their practice. An international study showed that Australian chiropractors were extremely apt to offer nutrition counseling to their patients, particularly in cases of chronic disease.
If you aren’t convinced that your nutrition matters while on chiropractic care, you may want to think again. Here is the breakdown of just how nutrition affects your care.
Chiropractic Care and Nutrition Affect the Nervous System
You probably already know that your nervous system plays a crucial role in your body. The brain and spinal cord tell your body what to do and how to do it. They also help your body to figure out how to utilize the meals that you give it. Proper nutrition is stored and broken down appropriately throughout the body. Unfortunately, your nervous system may be disrupted if you aren’t nourishing it correctly.
During chiropractic care, your doctor is busy trying to realign the spine and nervous system. This is true for those who have injury and even those are just concerned about their overall health. A treatment often involves manipulating the bones and moving around the spinal cord that it protects.
Everything in chiropractic care revolves around spinal health and nervous system health. If you are causing disruptions in the nervous system and are not nourishing it properly, you could be undoing all of this hard work. The proper nutrition allows both the nervous system and the skeletal system to work together toward healing.
Nutrition Can Reduce Inflammation
One of the most common issues seen in chiropractic care is inflammation of the muscles surrounding the spine. This can be caused by sports injuries, car accidents, or even twisting the wrong way at the checkout line. You may even have inflammation as a result of major diseases like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. The possible causes for inflammation throughout the body are nearly endless.
While you could take over-the-counter medications to help, a more natural approach involves altering your diet. According to Harvard University, you should consider incorporating some of the following foods into your diet to avoid inflammation:
- Olive oil
- Leafy green vegetables
Not only do these foods reduce the risk of inflammation, they also offer many protective factors. They frequently contain antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals in the body and protect cell health. Free radicals form when food is digested and the body is unable to process it. The end result is known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has proven links to major diseases like:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Parkinson’s Disease
Nutrition at the cellular level is not only good for your gut. It also improves the chances that your chiropractic treatment is going to be successful at the cellular level. This is where real change to your body begins. Reducing inflammation and eliminating free radicals is the start of a healthy system.
Don’t Forget the Musculoskeletal System
While it is clear that nutrition matters while on chiropractic care on a cellular level, we can’t forget about the musculoskeletal system. This system is integral in the treatment of spinal health and nervous system health. It is essential that we address how nutrition impacts this important aspect of wellness.
When your body processes food, it takes the necessary nutrients and distributes them throughout the body. The musculoskeletal system often receives the majority of your body’s calcium, protein, and vitamin D. These three nutrients are essential for the long-term health of your bones and muscles, including those that are manipulated during your chiropractic care.
However, musculoskeletal nutrition must also include magnesium. Epidemiological studies show that cultures with the highest ratios of dietary calcium to magnesium have the world’s highest rates of osteoporosis. Those with higher magnesium intake have the world’s lowest rates of this bone disease. In short, while calcium is important for both muscles and bones, it can actually cause problems in the absence of sufficient magnesium.
Fewer than one American in 5 (less than 20%) get the amount of dietary magnesium recommended by the federal government, and most nutritionists believe the recommendation is beneath what we really need to begin with. So, if you don’t eat lots of raw, magnesium rich foods (cooking foods with magnesium can wash it away), use a good magnesium supplement.
All four of these elements work together to promote better bone health and stronger muscles. They also prevent major diseases that affect the spine such as osteoporosis. In particular, protein is essential in improving both bone health and muscle health that can counteract some of these chronic ailments.
Every Diet is Different
An experienced chiropractor may have specific recommendations for the type of diet that you should follow. Your specific dietary needs are as unique as you are. Depending on the type of ailment you have, your doctor may recommend that you eat certain foods more than others. You may adopt a vegetarian diet or increase your protein intake. The possibilities are endless.
This difference in diet can be attributed to your body’s specific needs. You may need to work on improving bone health or reducing inflammation in your muscular system. No matter what you need to work on, there is a nutrition component that can contribute to your overall health.
Incorporating diet into your chiropractic care is essential if you want to treat the entire body. You will likely see benefits that extend well beyond just your spinal and nervous system health. Many people experience an increase in their energy and a decrease in other symptoms that are unrelated to their treatment.
The benefits of proper nutrition are seemingly endless, but they are particularly important for chiropractic treatments. Take the advice of your practitioner and start focusing on whole-body wellness instead of just your chiropractic treatments. In the end, your body will thank you.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic clinic in Juneau and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.