With the winter holidays approaching and Thanksgiving behind us, many people have a heightened interest in nutrition. It’s no secret that the food we put into our bodies has a direct link to our weight, risk for illness and disease, energy levels, and mood. For example, part of our immune system is controlled by digestion, which requires a healthy balance of good bacteria. Good bacteria requires specific types of food to thrive. When we don’t have the proper amount of “good” bacteria in our system, “bad” bacteria can take over and leave us sick and feeling lethargic.

Accelerate chiropractic results with proper nutrition

Maintaining proper nutrition should be a year-round job, but we understand how difficult it can be to eat healthfully around the holiday season. Endless desserts abound, and inclement weather may prevent us from getting to the gym. But it’s never the wrong time to improve your diet and nutrition. There are several steps you can take to prevent those holiday meals from packing on the pounds.

Nutrition and chiropractic care: A dynamic duo

When practiced in tandem with regular chiropractic care, good nutrition can accelerate the body’s ability to heal. Chiropractic treatment programs are designed to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself by releasing pressure on the nerves that control every function of our body. Proper blood flow and the free passage of signals from the brain are essential for our overall health and well being. But poor nutrition and an imbalance in our gut bacteria can interfere with this process by creating inflammation in the body.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to improve your diet, reduce inflammation, and prevent weight gain during the holidays (and throughout the year). And you don’t have to do a complete overhaul of your diet to see results.

Try practicing one of the following tips now, and incorporate the others as you get used to the changes. Try incorporating all three tips before the winter holidays arrive. Your body, brain, and waistline will thank you.

1. Drink more water

While different people will require different amounts of water, the Mayo Clinic suggests that you consume at least 8 glasses (64 ounces) of water daily. This is because the majority of our bodies are made of water, and every cell requires a consistent water supply to function properly. Water also helps to eliminate toxins from our bodies. If you are receiving chiropractic care, toxins that have built up over time can be released during adjustments, so it’s important to support the elimination of these toxins through a healthy diet.
Your hydration needs will vary based on your lifestyle. For example, if you are active or consume caffeine daily, you may want to increase your water intake beyond 64 ounces. When you drink your water can be just as important as how much water you drink. Dr. Vincent Pedre, digestion expert, director of Pedre Integrative Health, and author of Happy Gut, suggests drinking water no later than 30 minutes before a meal, and no earlier than 30 minutes after a meal. This is because water can interfere with the production of stomach acid, which is necessary for proper digestion.

2. Limit your sugar intake

You don’t have to eliminate desserts from your holiday dinners and parties completely, but it’s important to limit yourself. Furthermore, sugar can show up in our diets in unexpected ways, so it’s important to be mindful and check nutrition labels on processed foods (tomato-based sauces, yogurt, salad dressing, condiments, and cereal are common examples of foods containing “hidden” sugar).

In an article for Healthline, registered dietitian Jillian Kubala discusses how sugar can cause excessive cravings and weight gain. Too much sugar interferes with digestion by leading to leptin resistance – a hormone that regulates feelings of fullness. Leptin is the “stop sign” that tells you you’re full and to stop eating. Finally, excessive sugar intake is directly linked to increased risk of heart disease, acne, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, and even depression.

So have your dessert, but don’t go for seconds every night!

3. Limit your coffee intake

As we discussed above, hydration is essential for wellness. Coffee contains high levels of caffeine, which act as a “diuretic” and pull water out of the body. Additionally, coffee may be linked with weight gain. Some studies, including one published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, have shown that drinking 5 or more cups of coffee per day can lead to storage of fat, sensitivity to glucose, and insulin resistance – the forerunners of type 2 diabetes.

If you drink several cups of coffee per day, try reducing the amount of coffee intake throughout a week until you’re down to one or two cups. Green tea and half-caf coffee are great alternatives, and they can still give you that energy boost you crave.

If you’re going to attend a holiday dinner or party, try avoiding coffee for a few days before and during the festivities, as coffee may also be linked to increased cravings for sweets. In research conducted at the Cornell Sensory Evaluation Facility, researchers found that coffee blocks receptors for sweetness in the brain, which, paradoxically, make us crave more sugar and high-calorie foods.

At ProHealth Chiropractic Wellness Center, we recognize the importance of good nutrition and incorporate it into our chiropractic treatment programs. Each patient is asked to fill out a dietary survey, which is reviewed by the doctors. The results of the survey help the Doctor and patient evaluate nutritional balance, eliminate certain problem foods, or make beneficial additions.

The five keys to a healthy life include not just proper nutrition, but exercise, rest, a positive attitude, and proper nerve supply. All of these factors connect and affect one another and can lead to optimum wellness when practiced in tandem. Chiropractic care is the perfect complement to a healthy diet and can accelerate healing.

Check out our previous blog to see how chiropractic care can compliment your wellness routine.