Sunday, December 13, 2009

Understanding Whole Food Nutrition

Chiropractic is a unique profession with a philosophy that sets it apart from mainstream health care. The underlying principal in chiropractic is that the body is able to heal itself through an inner intelligence often referred to as the Innate. The doctor of chiropractic respects the power of the body, and works with it, to promote a state of health and wellness. Whole food nutrition, like chiropractic, is unique in the nutritional world because it relies on the innate healing power of the whole, intact food source. Thus, whole food nutrition can be an important clinical resource for chiropractors to create health in patients from the inside out.

I am interested in providing the best care for my patients, and I am obligated to address the issue of nutritional deficiencies and the effect it has on their well being. Until recently, it would not have mattered to me whether vitamins were food based or synthetic. The only thing I looked for in a supplement was how many milligrams of a given ingredient it had. I soon came to realize that in fact quantity does not equate to quality. What we should be focused on is effectiveness and potency – two things that set whole food nutrition apart.

The issue of nutrition has fascinated me and it is clear that food is medicine, and conversely, food can be poison. What we put in our mouths is as important as the thoughts we put in our heads. It is easy to show that modern food sources are deficient in life-sustaining nutrients and that if we want long-term health, we must be diligent about what we choose to put inside our bodies.

As a chiropractor I will be a healer, a communicator, and a teacher. And with the position of being called “doctor” comes a great deal of responsibility. My experience as
President of the Applied Kinesiology Club at NWHSU has helped open my eyes to the importance of being balanced – structurally, chemically, and emotionally. The triad of health is a way to understand and correct the source of the subluxation using adjustments, nutrition, and a compassionate heart. Since receiving a Standard Process® test kit, our club has been able to branch out drastically, investigating how different whole food nutritional supplements can change the energetics of the human body. All of this has served to expand my awareness of the energetic effects of the different foods and supplements we put inside our bodies.

I believe that treating the subluxation, while ignoring the underlying causes of neuro-musculo-skeletal stress is not doing enough. In the most general sense, stress causes disease - with much of that stress coming from the food we eat. Personally, I view the subluxation as multifaceted phenomenon where visceral dysfunctions, caused in part by a lack of adequate nutrition, are capable of causing subluxations that chiropractors discover in their spinal exams. Our nutritional health is directly related to our skeletal health. From that perspective it is important to aid the body's self-righting mechanisms with correct nutrition. By addressing patients nutritional needs along with their structural and emotional concerns, I firmly believe that chiropractic is more effective. I have an obligation to patients to get them well as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and whole food supplementation is part of that process.

If we accept our responsibility as doctors to “first do no harm”, then we must be certain that our nutritional therapies are supportive of health and do not cause secondary issues of their own. Nutrition is a very popular topic today and there is no shortage of products on the market. On some level most people accept that adding nutritional supplementation to their diet may benefit them. The real question is which supplement and in what form should it be taken. It comes as a surprise to many that not all vitamins are created equal.

The difference between synthetic and whole food supplements could be likened to the differences between symptom-based and wellness-based healthcare. Both approaches to healthcare are interested in getting the patient well. However, just as symptom-based approaches will miss the underlying causes of disease, synthetic vitamins will provide a narrow-range of nutrition that may be lacking in other critical factors necessary for health. This happens because every synthetic vitamin must first be extracted or created chemically, and in doing so it enters body without natural co-factors and usually in high doses.

Whole food nutrition is important because the human body is designed to get all its necessary nutrition from the diet – i.e. food and drink. Everything that cannot be created internally must be accounted for in the diet. The benefit of whole food nutrition is that only the water and fiber has been removed, leaving intact the other known and unknown life-sustaining nutrients,. This means that the original energy of the food is preserved, along with low doses of specific vitamins. The idea is that it is easier for the body to optimize nutrition if it is given in a natural food-based form. Providing the body with a vitamin complex, with original food source still intact, yields a potent supplement that heals both nutritionally and energetically.

Another reason whole food supplementation is important is that science has not identified every part of the food that is beneficial. So by providing only select nutrients and discarding the rest of the food source, synthetic supplementation may create deficiencies as the body attempts to metabolize high doses without accompanying food factors. This concept is important to me as it would be difficult to explain to a patient that the vitamins I suggested had actually created a new problem of their own. I also believe that because of the fact that science hasn't uncovered every necessary co-factor for a given vitamin, that it is more conservative to provide said vitamin intact with the food source. Being conservative with my chiropractic treatment is essential for patient health, and it is the same for my nutritional therapies

Given that whole food nutrition addresses patients needs holistically, with food sources intact, it is a perfect tool for chiropractors. I will use whole food nutrition in order to help my patients heal their visceral dysfunction while I work diligently on their structural concerns. I will use Applied Kinesiology techniques, lab testing, symptom surveys, and patient histories to guide my nutritional therapies. Most importantly, I will use my knowledge of why whole food supplements are effective to give me the confidence that my patient's are getting the best nutrition available.