Nutrition plays a huge role in health issues including obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, etc. It also contributes to chronic health issues that doctors have no answers for. Nutrition and chronic diesease are connected. It can even be the reason behind depression, anxiety, and added stress. Nutrition can even have an impact on how fast someone heals after a physical injury.
Nutrition is at the core of good health. As Hippocrates says, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates
How do we get the proper nutrition we need?
Well, there is a TON of misguided information out there. So let’s clear something up right away, not everyone who says they are a nutritionist actually has the expertise to speak on what is healthy and what is not. Many people can’t be relied on for nutritional advice when it comes to challenging health conditions.
I did some extensive research on how to understand what knowledge and expertise different nutritional therapists have and the benefits. View it here on Hope Instilled: Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.
Read on to find out how we get the proper nutrition we need to fight off health problems.
Our food gives our body instructions on how to function. Food helps to build new cells and tissue for growth. Cells are actually what we are made of (trillions of cells). If we get too much food, or food that gives our bodies the wrong instructions, we can become overweight, undernourished, and at risk for the development of diseases and conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease (Denton).
Inflammation is the leading cause of most chronic illnesses and diseases. One of the most important health discoveries of the past 20 years has been that the immune system and inflammatory processes are involved in nearly every mental and physical health problem we encounter today (SUNDIAL CLINICS, 2021).
Inflammation is when your body activates the immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. Inflammatory cells are sent to attack bacteria, but if the body continues to send them when there is no danger - this is chronic inflammation. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis inflammatory cells and substances attack joint tissues leading to an inflammation that comes and goes and can cause severe damage to joints with pain and deformities (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). With autoimmune diseases such as lupus, the body is attacking healthy tissue.
Dr. Hyman mentions inflammation as a leading cause of most chronic health conditions in his article Inflammation: How to Cool the Fire Inside You That’s Making You Fat and Diseased. Dr. Hyman says, “In my practice, treating food allergies and improving nutrition in general is the single most powerful tool I have to treat, reverse, and even cure hundreds of diseases that conventional medicine fails at miserably (Dr. Hyman).”
Inflammation is caused by: consuming the wrong foods, lack of exercise, chronic stress, exposure to too many toxins, obesity, and damage from an infection or injury which occurs deep in the cells and tissues of the body.
Improving nutrition helps with autoimmune disorders, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, IBS, allergies, hormonal problems, arthritis, colitis, cancer, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and more.
Some of the top foods used to fight inflammation include berries (blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) nuts (almonds, walnuts), extra virgin olive oil, dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, collard), green tea, turmeric, and cocoa.
Foods that can cause inflammation in the body include processed foods, vegetable oils, foods high in sugar, processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, baked goods), and overconsuming alcohol. Eating too much red meat and dairy can also cause inflammation in the body.
When a person eats products with sugar in them, or grain-based foods such as pasta, bread, rice, crackers, cookies, etc., they are converted to sugar in the body and elevate glucose or blood sugar levels (Johnson, 2022). This can lead to diabetes, more rapid aging, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
By the time a problem shows up on blood work, it could actually have been a problem on a cellular level for 10 to even 30 years. This makes it harder to reverse the problem because the cells of organs, brain, and body tissues could have been breaking down for 30 years.
Our brain is in charge of all are thoughts, senses, movements, and more. It needs fuel to operate at its best. Food is the fuel that determines your mood, your energy levels, your brain power, and more. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the "waste" (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells (Harvard Health Publishing, 2021).
Roughly 90% of people deal with some sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency. Multiple studies have shown a link to impaired brain function and mood disorders like depression from a diet high in refined sugar with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Read more on optimal fuel for healthy brain function here.
Diet might even help with anxiety. This study shows that anxiety and a lowered total antioxidant state are connected. Therefore, eating more foods high in antioxidants could help with anxiety. According the USDA these foods are fruits (apples, prunes, sweet cherries, plums) nuts (walnuts, pecans), vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach, beets, artichokes), spices (turmeric, ginger), and beans (pinto, black, red kidney) (Naidoo, 2019).
When recovering from an injury the body needs certain nutrients. According to a study on NIH: the human body requires energy and especially protein and unsaturated fatty acids to compensate for inflammation as well as a plethora of micronutrients, which contribute in healing (Papadopoulou, 2020).
The body needs protein to reinforce muscle tissue and support muscle development. Vitamin C is needed to help reduce inflammation, it also helps with maintaining muscle along with maintaining bones. Omega 3’s and zinc are also super helpful in reducing inflammation. Vitamin D helps with healing bones and contracting muscles properly.
Prebiotics are also a good choice for helping to fuel the gut lining which can also help with inflammation. Lastly, foods rich in fiber are helpful for keeping the body full and preventing overeating when being less mobile.
My Own Story
Changing my diet made a huge impact on my health. I had more energy, functioned better mentally, and physically felt better after learning to eat less processed foods, less wheat/flour products, and less sugar. It was also a major component in my healing process. When I struggled with constipation issues, I did an intense diet and then a detox. It fixed my constipation issues and also improved the function of my liver.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Check out these other articles we have created related to FOOD:
For information on eating healthier view: How to Lessen Your Exposure to Toxins (Part 2: Foods)
I provide a ton of helpful information on the most important foods to avoid, and why they are a cause for concern.
K State Research and Extension News/Top 10 Foods that Fight Inflammation. (2021, April 15). Retrieved from:
Harvard Health Publishing/Foods that fight inflammation. (2021, November 16). Retrieved from:
Fletcher, Jenna. (2020, January 3). MedicalNewsToday/Anti-Inflammatory diet: What to Know.
the Central Orthopedic group/6 Best Foods to Eat While Recovering from Sports Injuries. (2020, December 20). Retrieved from:
Ward, Shirley. Nuffield Health/Recover from injury fast with these healing foods. Retrieved from:
Johnson DHM, Martin. Total Health Nutrition Center/Sugar and Carbs Can Kill You. Retrieved from:
Cleveland Clinic/Inflammation. (2021, July 28). Retrieved from:
Denton LN, Carolyn. University of Minnesota/How Does Food Impact Health?. Retrieved from:
SUNDIAL CLINICS YOUR BACK PAIN SOLVED/MOST CHRONIC DISEASES ARE LINKED TO INFLAMMATION. (2021, December 15). Retrieved from: https://sundialclinics.co.uk/wellbeing/most-chronic-diseases-are-linked-to-inflammation/#:~:text=It's%20safe%20to%20say%20that,your%20organs%2C%20tissues%20and%20cells.
Papadopoulou, Sousana K. (2020, Aug 14). NIH/Rehabilitation Nutrition for Injury Recovery of Athletes: The Role of Macronutrient Intake. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468744/
Naidoo MD, Uma. (2019, August 28). Harvard Health Publishing/Nutritional strategies to ease anxiety. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20thought%20to%20be,herbs%2C%20beverages%2C%20and%20supplements.
Hyman MD, Mark. DR HYMAN/Inflammation: How to Cool the Fire Inside You That’s Making You Fat and Diseased. Retrieved from: https://drhyman.com/blog/2012/01/27/inflammation-how-to-cool-the-fire-inside-you-thats-making-you-fat-and-diseased/