by: Stephanie Pichan
Do you have a recurring injury or one that is taking its good ole time to heal? Do you have swollen or painful joints? Tendinitis? Carpal tunnel? Neck or back issues? Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) seem to be difficult to escape these days, not only from the physical stress we put on our bodies, like repetitive motions and heavy lifting, but emotional stress and poor nutrition wreaks havoc too! The good news is that we don’t have to accept these aches and pains as something that “just happens” as we age – we can take steps to prevent these issues from occurring in the first place and implement changes to support our bodies to promote healing.
While there are a lot of common non-diet changes you can implement, such as muscle and bone strengthening, stretching, stress management, chiropractic treatment, or even surgery when it seems everything else has been exhausted – when it comes to musculoskeletal issues, the power of food often gets overlooked. Studies show there is a connection between poor nutrition and musculoskeletal issues. In addition, if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or are overweight, all of which have a strong correlation to poor diet choices, your risk of developing MSDs will be increased even more.
How does diet affect MSDs?
One word, inflammation. The standard American diet is full of ingredients that cause inflammation, leading many people down the path to a chronic diet-induced inflammatory state. Low-grade chronic inflammation can cause damage to tissues and joints over time and is known to be a driver of most chronic degenerative diseases. Taking over the counter drugs and medications to combat pain, although they can help to reduce inflammation, only covers up the root issue. It’s important to remove the cause of inflammation to prevent further damage and allow your body to heal – and it starts with diet.
“Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” – Heather Morgan, MS, NLC
What can you do?
- Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet – the Mediterranean diet has been shown to decrease or even reserve MSDs.
- Lower your sugar intake.
- Decrease intake of processed foods.
- Avoid excessive intake of omega-6 containing foods.
- Replace refined oils with olive, coconut, or avocado oil.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more fish, but make sure it’s not farm-raised.
- Add daily supplements such as collagen, proteolytic enzymes, and fish oil.
In addition to diet, make sure to get regular exercise, reduce stress, and get enough sleep! Lack of exercise can increase inflammation and a poor night of sleep can cause your pain levels to increase the next day.
Nip MSDs in the bud and start making small changes today. Even if you aren’t experiencing any issues right now, making changes to reduce inflammation will benefit your overall health and lower your risk of developing other conditions in the future such as cancer, depression, and diabetes.
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About the author:
Stephanie Pichan is the Health and Wellness Coordinator at Whitaker LaChance Agency in Portage, Michigan. She’s a graduate of the Community Health Education program at Western Michigan University where she worked on an innovative team for 10 years developing health technology behavior-change interventions. She has a specific interest in the area of holistic health and believes in the healing power of food and its role in disease prevention. Although she strives to get at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, she believes it’s important to indulge from time to time; ice cream is usually the winner. Whether through work, volunteering, or every day connections, she’s passionate about helping others live their best life possible. Stephanie is developing the health and wellness area at Whitaker LaChance and using her creativity to contribute to the vision of the marketing team. She’s excited to be an integral part of helping the agency grow and expand.