What Is Integrative Medicine? Part 2: Nutrition
What’s Eating You?
A Nutritional Guide to a Healthy Life
The world of science is recognizing that foods can relieve pain as well as, or even better than, many drugs. No single food can completely stop chronic pain, but a healthy diet is a powerful part of your pain management strategy. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, healthful fats and protein from organic, grass fed meat and wild caught seafood can help build strong bones and muscles, prevent pain, help you lose weight, boost your energy levels and improve mood.
What is integrative medicine and why is nutrition such an important component?
Integrative medicine is an approach to care that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.
Proper nutrition supports every component of health and has a significant impact on the quality of your life. Your body’s unique biochemistry controls how you feel, think, sleep, react, look and interact. The integrative medicine approach to health considers your current biochemical status, what you eat, and how you respond to what you eat. Customized, strategic changes in your diet/nutrition can have an incredibly big impact on how you feel, sometimes quickly.
What are some signs that your nutritional state and diet is bad?
- Your hair is like straw
Your organs require adequate nutrition to function properly, and healthy hair follicles are no exception. Extreme diets can lead to protein deficiency and brittle hair or hair loss.
- Your skin is aging prematurely
Aging is inevitable, but a growing body of research indicates a nutritious diet can promote skin health and delay outward signs of skin aging. To get the benefits, and a more youthful appearance, consume five or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
- You have poor oral health
Inflamed or bleeding gums and cavities are both signs of a poor diet. Too much sugar is a culprit for cavities. In addition, swollen or bleeding gums often are associated with getting too little vitamin C in your diet.
- Your brain feels drained
Do you have trouble with your memory or with concentration? Struggling with fatigue? The brain depends on good nutrition to perform its best, so your diet may be to blame.
- You have digestive issues
Both diarrhea and constipation can surface if you aren’t eating enough fiber. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans fall short of the recommendations for fiber intake, which is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.
- You don’t heal properly
Poor diets affect the strength of new tissue, recovery time and how well your body fights off any infection that creeps into a wound. Studies have shown that sufficient intake of calories, protein and nutrients is essential for proper wound healing.
- You get sick easily
Poor nutritional habits can compromise your immune system and trigger illness and infection. If you are constantly under the weather, you could benefit from eating more nutrient rich foods.
What do you recommend?
General nutrition recommendations from an integrative approach include a diet primarily plant based that includes lots of organic fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, grass fed/organic/pasture raised meat and chicken, wild caught seafood, raw nuts/seeds and lots of water.
Is the trend toward organic a legitimate way to eat?
A 2008 analysis has shown that by choosing organic produce across the board you can slash pesticide exposure from food by about 97 percent. Everyone reacts to toxins differently and avoiding all environmental toxins is virtually impossible, but eliminating a known toxin from your primary food source is as easy as simply eating all organic.
Most diets center around weight-loss. What’s your philosophy?
Weight loss is definitely necessary to reduce inflammation if you are considered overweight. Excessive fat tissue is a known driver of inflammation. Our focus is on an anti-inflammatory diet of low sugar, low calorie, and plant based food sources, rich in organic fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids.
What are some of the most “painful” foods—those causing the most damage to our bodies?
The most damaging foods and beverages are those that trigger inflammation as your digestive system tries to process and break them down. Processed/refined/artificial foods, and drinks with high sugar content or artificial sweeteners, are actually foreign to your body and trigger inflammation when consumed. This would include candy, packaged foods and desserts, refined breads and grains, margarine, fried foods, oils used in most salad dressings and condiments, and soda. Your body’s digestive system is designed to handle food and liquid that is all natural, real, whole and organic without added sugar and preservatives.
Why isn’t there more information out there on the fact that foods can cause pain?
The information is limited because it is not a direct correlation. With poor dietary habits the level of inflammation in your body increases, which then causes you to be more susceptible to conditions or stresses that normally would not cause pain. You become hypersensitive. How food affects your body comes down to whether the food is anti-inflammatory versus pro-inflammatory. Research has shown that over time, a poor diet of pro-inflammatory food is linked to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, allergies, type 2 diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Rather than attempt a simplistic approach of “turning off” inflammation, integrative medicine supports controlling and limiting inflammation. Lifestyle patterns, especially dietary choices, and physical activity, as well as targeted nutritional supplementation, can have a significant impact on limiting and minimizing inflammation.
Are some foods more powerful than drugs?
Whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and berries are rich sources of phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties unmatched by any drug. When it comes to pharmaceutical approaches and drug intervention, too much of a good thing often leads to significant side effects.
What are some other common myths about nutrition and our diet?
The phrase “calories in equal calories out” is a common myth and misconception with regards to actual health and well-being. Reducing calories is certainly necessary to lose weight, but integrative medicine is focused on being truly healthy and happy. Calorie counting is not necessary if you follow a nutritionally sound diet. Everyone has a specific biochemistry given their current lifestyle and eating habits. Each person should be assessed from a holistic perspective.
Are certain people predisposed to food allergies?
Because of genetic influences and environmental factors, each person has a unique predisposition to certain foods. Some people are allergic to certain foods such as peanuts, gluten and shellfish. People can also be food sensitive, which is a form of a food allergy. Food allergy and sensitivity blood panels have shown that people are commonly allergic or sensitive to the protein in wheat, corn, soy, peanuts, dairy and eggs.
Should I go on a gluten-free diet if I don’t have an issue with gluten?
Some people think that they do not have a gluten issue if they don’t have celiac disease. You can be gluten sensitive just like other food sensitivities. Functional nutritional assessments can help determine if you have some form of gluten sensitivity. We recommend gluten-free regardless because foods that contain gluten have higher amounts of a fatty acid called omega-6 fatty acids which cause inflammation. This is in contrast to the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids prevalent in fish and green vegetables.
This is part-two of the four-part series on “What Is Integrative Medicine?” Many Americans have never heard of integrative medicine, but this holistic movement has left its imprint on many of the nation’s hospitals, universities, and medical schools. Mt. Lookout Chiropractic and Sports Injury Center is one of the leaders in the Midwest. If you would like any more information go online to mtlookoutchiro.com or call 513-321-8484.