It may or may not surprise you that the pain you are feeling in your body might be its way of telling you you are lacking a few key nutrients in your daily diet. On the flip side, for another article here, getting too much of the wrong things for your body can lead to just as much pain and inflammation. The Standard American Diet (SAD) causes numerous nutrient deficiencies, which often result in chronic diseases, including every day aches and pain or even more severe episodes.
Heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even obesity are all related to nutritional deficiencies. The cause? The typical American diet, which is a highly-processed and missing so many of the nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally. Put that with pharmaceutical medications that increase the likelihood of nutrient depletion. Over time, metabolic processes break down, leading to a variety of pain-related illnesses, including musculoskeletal pain.
As a chiropractic clinic, we work to correct the musculoskeletal system to alleviate pain, but Dr. Davis also dives into the aspect of your diet and how it can play a role in the healing process. Lifestyle changes can often be the best way to get your body feelings its best.
Let's go over how the lack of important nutrients can be causing you discomfort.
Nutrition is an area where most medical professionals receive little training. Chiropractic is a major leading alternative health care profession in the United States and is a voice of prevention and wellness. Although medical practices typically involve little nutritional consultation, medical doctors rely on the use of dietitians and nutritional counselors for more involved nutritional support for patients. Which sadly is usually the last resort or unspoken of.
For many of us, doctors included, the challenge is being able to recognize the connection between a nutrient deficiency and pain. Nutrient deficiencies alter bodily functions and metabolic processes down to the cellular level.
Let’s look at some key nutrients and their connections to inflammation, pain, and illness.
1.) Vitamin D
Most American adults are deficient in vitamin D, which contributes to a pro-inflammatory state. It’s immune modulating, and because it inhibits calcium absorption into the bone, can cause musculoskeletal pain. Researchers have found that vitamin D deficiencies are common in patients with chronic pain, and deficiency symptoms can include fatigue and muscle aches. Vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable form, is quickly absorbed, and is rarely found in foods. The best way to increase your levels is to spend time in the sun, 20-30 minutes per day with exposed arms and legs, and depending on where you live, taking a supplement. For us here and Iowa, we recommend getting your supplementation during the winter months from a trusted source and locally from Next to Nature.
Calcium is important for maintaining strong bones and controlling muscle and nerve function. Signs of severely low calcium include fatigue, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms. Make sure you are getting 9 servings of vegetables each day—especially dark leafy greens. Leafy greens are a rich source of calcium and not associated with intolerance or allergy that accompanies dairy products.
3.) B Vitamins
B vitamins are important for the myelin sheath, which protects your nerves. There are about 8 different B vitamins, and they all have critical roles.
Vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) can help improve carpal tunnel syndrome
Vitamin B3 (niacin) relieves osteoarthritis discomfort, resulting in improved joint flexibility, reduced inflammation and a reduction in the need for anti-inflammatory medications.
Vitamin B12 can help relieve the neurological pain that presents with tingling and other strange sensations.
Different types of B vitamins are readily available in whole foods such as meat, fish, dairy, dark leafy greens, almonds, peanuts, mushrooms, avocados, beans, and eggs.
4.) Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and it has a long history of use for musculoskeletal pain relief. Find vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, red peppers, asparagus, fish, mangoes, and avocados. Making sure to look for organic where you can. Here's a look at the EWG list of highly sprayed foods.
Magnesium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is used for over 300 biochemical reactions, yet most Americans are deficient! It’s required for protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, energy production, and blood pressure regulation. It is a cofactor for ATP, therefore, vital for energy production. Magnesium activates vitamin D, which as we said, is also important for calcium regulation and bone health. It regulates other minerals and also aligns itself with nutrients to help complete a multitude of biochemical functions. The older we get, magnesium intake decreases, and we see more deficiency symptoms. Numbness, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms are some of the symptoms seen with inadequate magnesium levels. This mineral is used to treat migraine headaches and may also be useful in treating fibromyalgia and impaired mitochondrial function. Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, and bananas are rich sources of this mineral. Supplementation at night for restless legs and better sleep are recommended.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are an essential type of fat that is used in metabolic processes, essential for good health, and help reduce inflammation in musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions, relieving chronic pain. They stimulate the development of cartilage for joint repair, increase mineral absorption, and have been effective for treating migraines, back pain, and arthritis. For musculoskeletal pain, doses of 3000 milligrams (3 grams) of EPA and DHA daily is necessary to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits. If you are not craving the familiar sources like halibut, salmon or sardines, be sure to include eggs, walnuts, and cauliflower in your diet. Next to Nature carries a trusted line for supplementation as well.
7. Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are a large component of neurotransmitters, muscles, cells, cartilage, bone, and tissue. They are just as important as vitamins and minerals! In fact, for anyone recovering from injury or surgery, or for those desiring muscle growth, proper amino acid intake is critical. Methionine is critical for those suffering from arthritis since it helps to relieve pain and stimulate cartilaginous tissue. The amino acid arginine is important for bone health since it is a component of collagen, an important component of bone. Adults require between 50 to 300 milligrams of amino acids per day. The foods with the highest amounts include animal products like lean meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocados, figs, and quinoa. Did you know that quinoa is actually a seed that is loaded with amino acids?!
Chiropractors treat numerous patients with inflammatory conditions or autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, scoliosis, and neuritis. A substantial amount of research exists to suggest that dietary changes reduce systemic inflammation which, in turn, alleviates pain and other clinical symptoms caused by inflammation.
Eating less processed foods, more organic fruits and vegetables, using supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, and drinking more clean water are examples of changes in diet that may have a positive impact on systemic inflammation. In addition, most chiropractic patients are females, and the management of some of their health issues (eg, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, menopause) may be enhanced with nutritional counseling. Therefore, the ability of chiropractors to incorporate nutritional counseling that goes beyond eating a balanced diet would be a valuable tool toward improving a patients' health.
We love talking nutrition and how it goes hand-in-hand with your regular chiropractic adjustment. If you are experiencing pain regularly, there is a reason. Write down what you are eating for an entire week and evaluate what you are getting/missing and discuss with your chiropractor or a registered dietician.
National Center for Biotechnology Information, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647073/