A person’s diet can significantly impact the function of their musculoskeletal system. That is why many chiropractors treat their patients by not only providing adjustments, but also evaluating their nutritional health.
“Nutrition and chiropractic care have always gone hand in hand,” said Weston Holzinger, DC (‘16), MS-NHP (‘16), DABCI, assistant professor at Logan University. “Many influential figures in chiropractic—including Drs. BJ Palmer and Clarence Gonstead—gave nutritional advice as part of their whole health approach to health care.”
According to Dr. Holzinger, making smart food choices can help people maximize the benefits of their chiropractic care. For instance, a poor diet consisting of heavily processed foods can trigger inflammation, which is linked to musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis. While chiropractors offer treatments that can help alleviate pain from these complications, they may also assist in developing plans to replace inflammatory foods with those that reduce inflammation.
“An anti-inflammatory diet includes whole, minimally processed foods: everything from greens to quality red meats and the broad spectrum of foods in between,” Dr. Holzinger said. “But a big key here is quality and eating more real foods. Doing so increases your intake of vitamins, minerals and many other whole-food nutrients that are likely to reduce chronic inflammation and improve recovery and health in so many aspects of life.”
Many people also turn to chiropractors for help treating sports and activity-related injuries like strains, sprains and tears. In addition to performing spinal manipulations to relieve pain, chiropractors can recommend foods to aid the recovery process.
“I see many patients who are on low-protein diets, which is problematic because your body needs protein for tissue reformation and building new muscles,” Dr. Holzinger said. “Advising them to add certain pasture-raised meats and eggs, fish, nuts and cheeses into their diets may accelerate their healing.”
A number of patients visit Dr. Holzinger’s practice for treatment of their headaches and gastrointestinal problems. He often augments their chiropractic care with personalized nutritional advice. For migraine headaches, he may suggest increasing magnesium intake through sources such as fresh vegetables, nuts, brown rice, fatty fish and quality dietary supplements when appropriate. To promote digestive health, Dr. Holzinger might recommend certain herbs depending on the patient’s condition.
Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) students at Logan University learn about nutrition through several courses. Dr. Holzinger’s Fundamentals of Nutrition class teaches students about different nutrients and how the body uses them. From there they develop an understanding of the health challenges that people consuming too few of those nutrients might exhibit.
“Chiropractic care is not just about treating symptoms,” Dr. Holzinger said. “It’s about addressing the root causes of health issues. What goes into the body determines how it functions. Therefore, understanding the ways nutrition impacts most aspects of health and wellness enables chiropractors to maximize their patients’ overall health.”
In a time when people are constantly exposed to new diet trends via social media, Dr. Holzinger believes chiropractors are a valuable source of knowledge regarding what works and what does not.
“Fads can change by the day, but what our bodies need to thrive does not,” Dr. Holzinger said. “Chiropractors, especially those with additional educational certifications or degrees in nutrition, can be great resources for people looking for nutrition advice.”
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