Suffice to say that rehab can be rugged work, whether an individual is coming in to address a nagging, overuse injury or is in the throes of a significant amount of post-operative inflammation around the surgical site. The Body IS designed to respond and adapt to progressive loading and heal. Believe it! But proper nutritional support can make a huge difference in the efficacy of the effort and we strongly encourage optimized (not expecting perfection, but optimized) nutritional support for the sweat equity that is being put forth in our clinic. To quote Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Additionally, certain lifestyle habits can optimize the process. This will support the healthy inflammatory process and expedite healing, leading to improved function, and ultimately the end game goal of improved quality of life. It is also worth noting that while widespread, long-term inflammation is the impetus for many chronic disease processes, localized and controlled inflammation is actually a healthy process for the body.
Regarding nutrition, there are many strong opinions out there RE: the optimal diet plan, and indeed they are often supported by valid research and legions of loyal followers (and sometimes angry bloggers). Every BODY is different and optimal nutrition is often dictated practically by an individual’s unique constitution, preferences, and a host of other factors. We are not endorsing a particular diet plan as “THE ONE”, because ultimately we want principle driven dietary habits. For the sake of this text, we’ll consider the Mediterranean and Paleo diet, both of which have been well documented for their anti-inflammatory benefits, and how they contrast with the “typical” American diet which has been shown to be highly inflammatory. This discrepancy is rooted to a great degree in the ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids. Whereas the Mediterranean diet and paleo diet can closely approximate the ideal ratio of 4:1 or 3:1, the American diet is thought to be closer to 16:1 or even up to 25:1, depending on which reference you cite. That is why omega-3 supplementation has recently been exploding, in an effort to appropriate a more optimal ratio in our diets. While Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can help, incorporating these dietary principles as a whole is optimal. Besides aforementioned ratios of fatty acids, managing blood glucose is also very important for the process of creating an internal (bodily) environment in which inflammation is minimized. The Mediterranean (as well as the Paleo) diet have empowered countless people to cut out refined sugars/grains and replace them with more healthful whole food choices.
People are becoming increasingly aware of long-term effects of excessive over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. These medicines DO have their place but we would all do well to explore ways to incorporate a more natural approach to controlling inflammation and developing an overall state of well being. Research supports the anti-inflammatory benefits of several common ingredients that may be hiding in your kitchen’s spice rack. These include, but are not limited to curcumin/turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and garlic, to name just a few.
In addition to shifting our paradigms to making sustainable, long-term changes to our dietary habits, there are several lifestyle changes that may appear obvious as being beneficial, but are so often overlooked in our fast paced world and “easier said than done” with regard to their application. That being said, it is worth mentioning that improved sleep and minimized stress levels are going to decrease OXIDATIVE STRESS (which is essentially an imbalance between the body’s production of harmful free radicals and its ability to counteract/detoxify them – leading to increased levels of inflammation). Certain seasons of life will put limitations on the amount of sleep we get, but it is within our power to improve the quality of sleep, which walks hand in hand with properly managing our stresses. Diaphragmatic breathing at the end of the day is just one of many tools that we apply here in the clinic and encourage that people apply at home to down-regulate the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system and up-regulate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system.
Finally, managing blood glucose levels will decrease systemic inflammation in the body, thus creating a better environment for healing to progress. Essentially this means that if the sweet tooth holds sway in your diet, to portion it out over several more manageable indulgences. So, by this reasoning, if we have to have that piece of cake, then you’ll want to ingest it “piece-wise” over the course of 2-3 meals in a day vs. spiking insulin levels in one sitting.
We are not endorsing perfection but rather the aim is to empower people to know and operate with the knowledge that daily habits can greatly improve the outcome of one’s rehab experience and that is truly what we want for you