Nutrition is an important part in maintaining and supporting your health.
You have probably heard the expression: 'You are what you eat!'
There is mounting evidence that having the right nutritional support can help your body heal quicker especially after injuries and surgery. There is also evidence that it will help to prevent certain diseases.
Here at the ISIS Centres we understand how important nutrition is.
If you need any help or advise on any nutritional questions, please ask you chiropractor.
Our bodies need energy to allow us to be active and for our bodies to perform all of its day to day functions that keep us alive.
This energy is provided for us in the food we eat and the drinks that we consume in the form of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.
Striking the right balance between these three basic food groups is what leads to a diet being termed healthy as well as getting the right amount of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and water.
Essentially there are only really five basic food groups:
Some foods yield more energy than others and the amount of energy a food item produces (measured in calories) per gram is now referred to as its “Energy Density”.
Fruits, vegetables and lean proteins (such as chicken for example) have a much lower energy density than foods which are high in fat and processed sugar such as chocolate and fried snacks which are said to have a high energy density.
Not all high energy density foods are bad for us; having a low water content also means that healthy foods such as nuts yield a great deal of energy per gram!
With this in mind, our diets should ideally be based around foods with a lower energy density. Each plate of food is best split roughly three ways:
A long-term imbalanced diet rich in higher energy density foods may result in weight gain over time in the form of fat which is where the body stores energy that it doesn’t need which eventually leads to the state of obesity.
Almost a quarter of adults in the UK are classed as obese, whilst 42% of men and 32% of women are classed as overweight. Only 25-30% of the population were meeting the 5-a-day consumption of fruit and vegetables. This can have a long term effect on the joints of the body, in particular the weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, ankle, foot and spine.
Increased stress on these joints can increase the degenerative process and potentially lead to osteoarthritis. Coupled with poor nutrition and less exercise the chances of weakened bone density can increase.
Dietary factors can influence our ability to heal. Pro-inflammatory foods (such as grains – flour, bread, pasta - processed foods, fried food, dairy and sugar) can lead to a larger than necessary response to injury, leading to increased sensitivity to pain and slower resolution of symptoms.
Too many fatty foods can put the essential fats out of balance leading to this pro-inflammatory state. Another effect of too much fatty food is increased production of insulin which over time can lead to a form of diabetes (Type 2). Examples of good sources of essential fatty acids include vegetables, fruits, seeds and fish.
Another factor of poor diet is altered pH levels, such as increased acidity within the body. This can stimulate the nerves that sense pain, increasing discomfort. The pH levels are made more acidic by eating grains, meat and cheese.
Fruit and vegetables, in particular white potatoes and spinach, promote a more stable, less inflammatory state.
Long-term acidity can potentially lead to weakened bone and chronic pain syndromes.
There is also mounting evidence that free radical activity and inflammation play a fundamental role in the development of many conditions and diseases, including painful joints and muscles, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, periodontal disease, reproductive complications, auto-immune disorders, some forms of cancer and dementia.
All these conditions have been linked to levels of free radicals in your body – if levels are high, this indicates that the body is under oxidative stress, which adversely affects the body’s immune defences and leads to high levels of inflammation and damage to cells and our DNA.
Free radicals are produced within the body every time we breathe in oxygen or pollutants, are exposed to sunlight or exercise.
Antioxidants fight free radical activity, protecting your cells and your DNA and reducing oxidative stress.
To protect cells against free radical damage you should increase the level of antioxidants in your body.
You can boost your antioxidant level, supporting your body’s immune system and lead to an improvement in inflammatory status. But a nutritional supplement should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet.
Nutritional supplements are commonly talked about as it is thought a large portion of society is deficient in certain nutrients as a result of the rise in processed foods and lack of education about appropriate diets.
The supplement industry is not regulated and therefore sourcing good supplements is important.
For more information contact the ISIS Chiropractic Centres.
British Nutrition Foundation: http://www.nutrition.org.uk
Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2009 Jan;21(1):71-7. Obesity and the musculoskeletal system Anandacoomarasamy A, Fransen M, March L. Institute of Bone and Joint Research, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.