01 Mar Nutrition: What is it?
Nutrition. What is it? What does it mean? For many of us, when we think of nutrition, we think fruits and vegetables, but nutrition is so much more than that. In today’s world, we are bombarded by the latest fad diets, supplements left and right, recommendations to do this or not do that. If you turn on the nightly news, there seems to be a new medical study every day that suggests Americans should change their lifestyles in one way or another.
So with all of this information what can we do as consumers? It is this exact question that led me to decide to begin writing my first book. As a practicing chiropractor I saw patients had a lot of questions regarding nutrition. This led me to pursue my Masters in Nutrition and Human Performace. As chiropractors, we take nutrition classes as part of our curriculum which, you will see later in this article, is not always the case with primary care physicians. It was my hope that I could write a book that would help my patients make better informed health decisions, while not being a graduate level nutrition book. The book, which is still a work in progress, examines the culture of health and nutrition and why it is so important for us to make the best possible choices when it comes to one’s health decisions.
I have battled with weight problems all of my life. It was not until recently that I decided that instead of focusing on the latest fad diet or “quick fix” in hopes of losing a few pounds, that I was instead going to focus my efforts on eating healthy and supplying my body with the best nutrients possible. Now I am still human, so I do have the occasional cheat meal, but that is okay. Anytime you deprive yourself of your favorite meal you will only crave it more to the point where you will over indulge. So I decided that I was going to cut out processed foods and started to replace them with more fish (salmon, orange roughy, mahi mahi) and added all the vegetables I could possibly eat (baked broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus). After 3 weeks, I am down currently down 5 lbs. More importantly than the weight that I have lost is how I am feeling. Combining proper meal choices and nutrition with the AdvoCare products I was already taking have proven to be of great benefit for me.
In the United States, the economic impact of malnutrition is approximately $157 billion annually (Snider, 2014). This statistic will only keep climbing until changes are made with our diets. Currently 7 of the top 10 causes of death in the United States are related to chronic disease and many chronic diseases have an underlying nutritional component (Early, 2015). Why is malnutrition such a problem in the US? One reason is because a large portion of the American diet is now made up of processed food. They are cheap and affordable yet typically not as nutritious. In fact, the fruits and vegetables we are eating today are not as nutritionally rich as the fruits and vegetables our grandparents ate when they were our age.
While some people in the healthcare field may argue that nutritional supplements are not a necessary part of our life and argue that all the nutrients we need can be obtained through food, this is simply not true. In my book, I outline and discuss several research studies that show even athletes at the top of their game are still nutrient deficient (Burns, 2010). The argument can be made that as Americans we simply do not get the proper nutrition. While it is true nutritional supplements cannot and should not replace healthy eating (for numerous reasons, that will be covered in the book also), adding in nutritional supplements can bridge the gap for the nutrients that may be missing in our diet.
With this being said, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any nutritional supplements. Some nutritional supplements can interfere with prescription medication, so it is best to consult with your healthcare provider. When seeking a healthcare provider to talk with, it is important that you find someone who has a background in nutrition and understands why proper nutrition is important. One would think that your medical doctor would be the best person for this job, but this may not always be the case. As I found in my research, many MDs who receive any nutrition information do so outside of medical school through various outside courses (Adams, 2006). While there is nothing wrong with outside courses, the real issue is that nutrition is not viewed as being an important topic in many medical schools. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges has decided NOT to incorporate nutrition in their recommendation for medical competencies (Adams, 2015).
Final thoughts. We need to make lifestyle changes if we want to lead a healthy fulfilling life. It is important that proper nutrition not be thought of as a diet, but rather a new lifestyle. When this is not enough, consider adding nutritional supplements after speaking with your healthcare provider and doing your own research. Just because a product is “buy one get one free” at the local super store, does not mean it is a “deal”. Make sure the company is well respected, has a good track record and has been tested by an independent third party company such as InformedChoice.
Nutritional changes such as these can have a lasting impact on your life.
Adams, K. M., Butsch, W. S., & Kohlmeier, M. (2015). The State of Nutrition Education at US
Medical Schools. Journal of Biomedical Education, 2015, 1-7. doi:10.1155/2015/357627
Adams, K. M., Lindell, K. C., Kohlmeier, M., & Zeisel, S. H. (2006). Status of nutrition
education in medical schools,. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(4), 941S–944S.
Burns, S. (2010, July 09). Nutritional value of fruits, veggies is dwindling. Retrieved April 14,
2016, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/37396355/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/nutritional-value-fruits-veggies-dwindling/#.Vw_Wd_krLIU
Early, K. B., Adams, K. M., & Kohlmeier, M. (2015). Analysis of Nutrition Education in
Osteopathic Medical Schools. Journal of Biomedical Education, 2015, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2015/376041
Snider, J. T., Linthicum, M. T., Wu, Y., Lavallee, C., Lakdawalla, D. N., Hegazi, R., &
Matarese, L. (2014). Economic Burden of Community-Based Disease-Associated Malnutrition in the United States. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 38(2 Suppl). doi:10.1177/0148607114550000