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Addressing Nutritional Needs for Physical Therapy Patients

What you eat can impact the way you live

November is Good Nutrition Month, and that’s something especially important to consider when thinking about what comes after November: the holidays. It doesn’t matter which days you and your family choose to celebrate, the one thing that is for certain is that there is likely to be an abundance of food… and very little time for regular activities. Family and friend time is always a good thing, but it’s important to remember that even making small, healthy choices can lead to a significant improvement – and impact – on a person’s life.

Whether you’re a patient that is receiving physical therapy for an underlying condition or diagnosis or just someone who is looking to follow advice in order to get (and stay) healthier, knowing how to approach the end of the year with a positive mindset is important.

A physical therapist should care about what their patients are eating

According to the NBCI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), a proper diet can reduce the risk of physical therapy patients suffering from different chronic health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other things. A proper diet can also help facilitate healing and speed up recovery time from an existing injury. By taking proactive steps and recommending different kinds of food and exercises, physical therapists will help patients face each day with the knowledge that they are doing what is necessary to recover from injuries and keep themselves healthy by altering their diet, even slightly. Since a physical therapist is looked at as an expert in their field, patients are more likely to listen to their advice – and for good reason! – than they are to trust what they see online or via the suggestions from family or friends.

There is a process to follow when it comes to using a managed diet in addition to physical therapy sessions to improve patient health and nutrition, but you’ll need to start somewhere, so why not with what you consume?

Read on to find out what some of the most highly rated foods for managing (or eliminating) pain are. 

Being able to actively participate in physical therapy or exercise sessions requires patients to feel healthy, and by introducing some of the following into your diet in higher amounts than normal, not only will your body thank you, but you might just feel a little extra energy, too.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: One of the simplest additions people can make, this category includes things like walnuts, chia seeds and fatty types of fish. The intake of these can help with joint and muscle pain, can strengthen the bones, and even help with symptoms of depression. Omega-3’s are also ideal for reducing inflammation, which is very important during recovery from an injury, and can improve conditions for people that suffer from certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases, too.
  2. Turmeric and Ginger: These two spices can pack a huge punch. Both are anti-inflammatory, but ginger doubles as a tool to help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and turmeric may even help in cases of cancerous cells within the body. Both can easily be added to daily meals and snacks like salads, meats, tea or even as a component of stir fry dishes to increase the nutrition of your meals.
  3. Peppers: Another anti-inflammatory food, peppers are a delicious addition to any hearty dish, or they can even be eaten raw as a health-boosting snack. Fun fact: the hotter a pepper is, the better it is at stopping the brain’s “pain” signal from activating when nerves swell.

The first goal is to stop inflammation and make patients comfortable. What comes next?

People tend to respond positively to things when they can see or feel an immediate benefit, but for physical therapists and nutritionists, it’s important to make patients aware that they won’t get an immediate response to changing their nutrition or increasing exercise. Since the body is a system, it will take some time for a ‘reset’, which is why it’s imperative that any changes made to the diet are long lasting. When something becomes routine, the body will adjust to it, and that is when you will see and feel the changes.

It’s easy to get off track, and it’s easy to form habits that are detrimental to the overall nutrition of the body, but with proper guidance and a little patience, not only will you get stronger and more capable, but you’ll also be able to get healthier overall and recover from injuries faster. A strong body is only going to be as good as what you put into it, so no matter what you’re able to do, it won’t matter unless you’re backing it up with good nutrition and a balanced diet.

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