We all know that a healthy diet has its benefits. Eating whole, clean foods rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and lean protein contributes to much more than simply feeling good and weight control. Maintaining a nutrient-dense diet can help us manage and prevent a host of health concerns, including heart disease, auto-immune diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, various cancers, depression, arthritis, and the list goes on.
There are also foods that can negatively impact the way we feel. As a physical therapist, my goal is to help people live pain free and stay strong, mobile and flexible throughout their lives. Proper nutrition is the foundation upon which our bodies can build, restore, and thrive. Even with routine exercise and other smart lifestyle habits, we cannot expect our body to reach its optimal function without it. Many people aren’t aware of how the foods they eat cause inflammation, leading to long-lasting and often debilitating pain.
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to exercise, injury, consuming or breathing allergens, aging, stress and more. Trouble (and pain) can strike when our body is unable to control the degree, and duration of inflammation, particularly if we break down tissue faster than we can rebuild and repair it. This trend leads to a cycle of inflammation, causing swelling, pain, and irritation within muscles, organs, and other structures of the body.
When patients come see us, identifying the root cause of inflammation is our first objective. After examining where the mechanical “issues in the tissues”may be, we address positioning, alignment, and quality of function with hands-on techniques and specific and personalized exercise prescription. For many, however, that alone won’t solve the problem. Adjusting one’s diet at home to include (or avoid) specific food groups and ample hydration supports therapy in the clinic.
Since I primarily see people in some degree of pain, my nutritional recommendations focus on obtaining nutrients necessary to rebuild damaged structures. These foods also support digestion which aids in healthy immune system function. The bare bones of these nutritional guidelines include eating oodles of raw and cooked vegetables, grass fed and wild meat (bonus points if it’s bone-in), eggs, healthy fats (such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado), nuts and seeds, a bit of full fat dairy, and little fruit (berries and low glycemic index choices are best). By optimizing your food and food prep choices, you can get off the inflammation cycle and heal your body, inside and out.
So, how can we maximize success?
Success is something we must plan for. We set goals—short and long term—with patients regarding where they would like to be relative to their pain and function. Your commitment to proper nutrition is no different. Ensuring that your home and office are stocked with the kinds of foods that will ensure success will make food selection when you’re hungry a simpler task. And taking advantage of wonderful food meal options, such as those offered through Power Supply, can help you stay the course. Additionally, the variations in flavors and textures of Power Supply meals often spark new menu ideas for when you are cooking for yourself at home.
I love food. I love food a lot. I love the textures, the tastes, the smells, the feelings it evokes, the conversations it inspires, the people it brings together. I love how it can make us feel comforted, loved, nourished, and satisfied. But what I love most about food is how it serves our bodies. Food has the power to unleash our body’s potential from the inside-out. It has the ability to satisfy and sustain us emotionally and physically. Whether you are simply striving to control your body’s pain and inflammation or you are looking to live as healthy as you can, choosing the best foods for your body is a tremendous gift. Do yourself a solid and allocate time to shop and prepare meals that optimize your health now and for years to come.
By Elizabeth Polis, PT, DPT
PS: Don’t forget water. Just drink it.
Some of my favorite resources to further your motivation and commitment to your health:
Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris