When you think of physical therapy, you think of physical aspects such as strength-building, flexibility exercises. We dont consider the correlation between physical therapy and nutrition. Nutrition plays a vital role in the recovery process. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about the pivotal role that nutrition plays in the healing process and how it compliments the activities physical therapists encourage you to participate in order to recover.
Nutrition is Essential to Healing and Recovery
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, nutrition is important to healing and the recovery from various types of injuries, illnesses, and other situations. This is due to the fact that when the body is suffering – in one way or another – its nutritional needs increase dramatically. The following outlines this:
- When the body enters into the healing process due to an illness or an injury, it requires higher levels of energy. As a result, it enters into a higher state in terms of metabolic state.
- The immune system experiences an immediate state of weakening due to the stress and/or the shock of the injury and/or illness. If nutritional needs are not met, this could lead to detriment of the immune function.
- If an injury occurs, the lack of use associated with the trauma leads to atrophy of the muscles involved. The proper nutrition – such as protein – aids in combatting this atrophy process.
- If a wound occurs and the individual does not receive the proper nutrition, it increases the risk of an infection developing.
- If inflammation develops, the proper anti-inflammatory nutrients should be consumed or there could be a dramatic delay in terms of the ability to return to the state of function before the illness or injury that caused the inflammation.
- Any type of physiological-based stress could lead to the development of fatigue. One requires nutrition that will combat this level of fatigue.
Medical professionals have found that nutritional deficiencies have the capability of actually hindering the natural healing progression of the body. If the proper nutrition is not obtained, one may suffer from infection and/or find that it takes significantly longer to recover.
Physical therapists not only help in providing physical exercises and techniques that help in positive outcomes. They have the capability of instructing a patient on the types of foods, supplements, and nutrients that are required to optimize the healing process.
Undernourishment and Malnourishment
It is a known fact that most individuals throughout the country are overfed, but are actually undernourished. According to data retrieved from medical files nation-wide, approximately 50% of all patients have some degree of undernourishment or malnourishment. As a result of this, these individuals face the possibility of experiencing more complications and issues than those that are properly nourished.
In fact, it has been determined that, for every $1 that is spent on nutritional therapies, it saves $52 in costs associated with hospital stays.
Medical professionals have studied nutritional deficiencies at length and have determined that the following are the most commonly experienced by patients in the United States:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Physical Therapists Place a High Emphasis on Nutrition
The American Physical Therapy Association has stated that when it comes to the general scope of the overall practice of a physical therapist, nutrition is key. When you work with a physical therapist, you are working with a professional that knows that your diet and your general nutrition are essential elements to healing from the illnesses and/or illnesses in which they help you recover. These professionals are able to recommend nutritional products, supplements, and even advice that will help to provide an immediate boost to your health.
The Importance of Nutrients
All body tissues need nutrients because they are composed of nutrients. Additionally, nutrients are the basis of creation when it comes to neurotransmitters. They play an active role in the regenerative processes of the body and help in the process of physically adapting to physical activity.
Of course, everyone’s nutritional needs are different. Your needs will be evaluated based on your age, what gender you are, what level you are at in terms of physical activity, the types of medications that you use (both over-the-counter and prescription), as well as the injuries and/or illnesses in which you suffer.
By working with a physical therapist, you are doing more than simply healing or recovering. You are making a lifestyle choice that will optimize your overall health and success during and after the recovery and the healing process. Consider the following:
- Proteins aid in the growth and strengthening of your bones, the muscles in your body, and the connective tissues throughout your body.
- Calcium helps build bones, allows our blood to properly clot, helps in muscle contractions, and enables our heart to beat.
- Magnesium is a requirement for more than 300 different biochemical reactions that occur within the body. It helps in the function of nerves and muscles, the strengthening of the immune system, and helps ensure the strength of both the heart and the bones.
- Zinc helps the metabolism in the body and ensures the functionality of the immune system. It is also a necessary mineral for the healing of wounds that you experience.
- Copper is critical to maintaining health in the blood vessels, the bones, the nerves, and the immune system. Additionally, it helps the body in the process of iron absorption.
- Silica helps in strengthening all of the connective tissues that are part of the nervous system and it plays a role in stabilizing the release of insulin from the pancreas.
- Vitamins help in ensuring that the cells develop, grow, and function appropriately. Naturally, cells are an essential component of all of the aspects of your body.
How Are Nutrients Lost?
There are several reasons as to why nutrients are lost within the body. In a lot of cases, it stems from the body being unable to appropriately absorb the substances. This is often caused by a problem with the metabolism of the body or an infection.
It may also stem from illness, stress, and/or the utilization of certain types of prescription medications.
Nutritional deficiencies may also be a result of lack of information about nutrient needs, restrictive diets, overeating, and poverty.
Aging may also play a role in lack of nutrients throughout the body. For example, the muscles of an older individual may be resistant to certain nutrients; therefore, the need for increasing protein is required.
The Pain Factor
Many individuals who are ill or injured may suffer from inflammatory-based pain. If this describes you, it is important to know and understand that your diet will play a critical role in overcoming that pain and the oxidative-based stress that is placed on your body.
Nutritional advice that you may receive from a physical therapist could be to consume a diet that has a lot of whole grains, vegetables, berries, legumes, and fruits. These contain massive amounts of micronutrients and also phytochemicals that will provide a boost to your immunity and will reduce inflammation.
Additionally, you may be encouraged to consume items that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, as these act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Supplements such as B12 and Vitamin D also help combatting inflammatory pain.
By working with a physical therapist and following nutritional guidelines offered, you may be able to quickly eliminate pain.
The Role of Nutrition and Physical Therapy
Nutrition has a direct impact on the recovery and functionality of the body. It is so critical that many physical therapists find themselves evaluating and treating poor nutrition levels more than any other condition. Chronic disease, repetitive injuries, obesity, and a lifestyle that is considered to be sedentary call for immediate intervention in terms of nutrition.
By working with a physical therapist on your nutrition, you will quickly discover that you have an improved outcome in your treatment and that it produces change that is long-lasting and highly beneficial to your overall health.
A few examples of the immediate benefits of physical therapy combined with nutrition include – but, are not at all limited to – the following:
- You will discover that you have significant less inflammation throughout your body.
- You will experience far less general pain because the nociception input in the body is decreased.
- Your general level of cognitive functioning will improve in a significant manner.
- There will be an improved level of regulation with the insulin/blood sugar throughout the body.
- The healing process of your body will improve which will leave you healing very quickly.
- You will discover that your immune system is much stronger and that you experience far fewer illnesses.
- You will find that you have a better outcome in your treatment than you have ever previously experienced.
When you visit a physical therapist, you should inform the professional that you would like a nutritional evaluation right in the beginning of your treatment.
When you get this and receive nutritional instruction from your therapist, you will quickly discover that – when combined with your exercises, the manual therapy that you receive, and the education that you receive – that you will have a quicker and more effective recovery than you would if you received only standard exercise therapy, alone.
When combined, nutritional therapy and physical therapy result in immense positive changes in the body.
In short, nutritional therapy is a form of therapy that places on emphasis on the general idea that health care may be achieved by combining both a holistic approach and a bio-individual-focused approach to both nutrition and lifestyle choices. It is a special type of therapy that focuses on respecting the feedback system of the body.
This system is directly responsible for the restoration and regeneration of itself. You will learn many techniques and will be provided with a variety of resources and educational tools that helps to pinpoint nutritional-based imbalances within the body.
If you are ready to take your health to a whole new level and to provide a boost to your general well-being, we here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy can assist you!
For more information and/or to set up an appointment to create an individualized treatment plan, simply contact us today by calling the following number: 303-832-5577