When I chose the title for this blog, I realized it was a pretty heavy topic. We could discuss nutrition in depth over multiple posts but that would be out of my scope of practice. So, bear with me while we lightly delve into the topic to discuss some things that could be affecting the speed and fullness of your recovery.
The American Physical Therapy Association recently pushed to include basic nutrition counseling within a physical therapist’s scope of practice. Why? Because the role of nutrition in healing and basic function continues to become more clear, and it’s no insignificant role!
With injury there is an inflammatory response by the body that includes redness, heat, swelling and pain. While the period immediately post-injury is not fun, these symptoms are normal and healthy (as a side note, this is the phase of injury we suggest gentle motion, rest, ice, compression and elevation, as appropriate). However, research shows that about 30% of Americans are living with subclinical inflammation, or low levels of elevated inflammatory markers, consistent with the inflammatory markers that are present immediately after tissue injury. This means that you have unresolved inflammation in your system, and your body is trying to address both this as well as the ‘traditional’ injury/inflammation you are attempting to repair. This type of inflammation occurs without the classic signs listed above, but may eventually manifest as insulin resistance. More pertinent to this article, it may result in longer healing time.
How does this subclinical inflammation occur, you ask? It has been associated with a LARGE number of conditions and lifestyles, but unhealthy diets are on the list of contributing factors. If you are dealing with an injury that is not healing, or just not achieving physical goals as you think your body should, your diet is a great area to start. And before you stop reading, know that I am not here to tell you to avoid the treats you love, but I will remind you to enjoy them in moderation. I realize this can be incredibly difficult, just ask Theo Chocolate Company how many times I have taken their tour.
If you want to significantly change your diet, talking with your physician or a Registered Dietitian (RD) is the way to go. But if you’re looking to make small changes here are some tips:
-Drink more water (aim for about 2 liters per day). This can help reduce hunger, and many of us in the Pacific Northwest are dehydrated anyway. Coffee does not count as water intake.
-Limit the sweet treats. Excess sugar is known to be a contributor to subclinical inflammation. You can still celebrate St. Patty’s day in full with this one. Very few people have overdosed on corned beef and cabbage that we know of.
-Try counting calories. Chronic overeating in general contributes to an inflammatory response as your body handles the excess intake.
-Make half of your plate veggies at dinner (try seasoning with herbs instead of sauces), with the other half made of proteins, fruits and healthy grains or legumes. Because it just tastes good.
If you feel that you are still struggling with healing from an injury despite modifying habits, don’t hesitate to discuss this with your PT. You may need further consult with your physician to rule out any other factors.
At Edge PT we know that there are multiple layers to health and recovery. We want to treat the whole person, and while musculoskeletal injuries are often just that, we are happy to troubleshoot with you on other factors that may be impeding your health and recovery.