Let’s celebrate “National Nutrition Month” together.

 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created National Nutrition Month to increase awareness of nutrition’s importance and how nutrition can help you achieve your goals. Specifically, the month is geared to educate people on the importance of making healthy food and drink choices, create improved eating habits, and incorporate more physical activity into their daily lifestyle to prevent the onset of many chronic diseases.

I hear a lot from my clients about what they “used to be able to do” and “used to look like” before they were injured. Many people undergoing physical therapy tend to gain weight due to their pain-limiting movement and exercise, along with the emotional tendency to eat when they are suffering. Here are a few tips that may help you on your journey to looking, feeling and living better.

Cardio Versus Cutting Calories

The two most effective ways to lose weight are adding cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, biking, running, and decreasing your caloric intake. There are benefits to choosing one over the other. For example, if you have significant arthritis in your knees, making walking painful, initially cutting calories to lose weight may be the smarter and more comfortable choice. Alternatively, if you have been dieting for a while and are already at a low caloric intake, adding cardio may be your only option. However, both may be used in combination to accelerate and meet your goal.

 

Fruit and Vegetable Intake

We need fruits and vegetables in our diet to ensure that we are getting a full dose of all the essential minerals and vitamins our bodies need to perform optimally. However, one of the biggest problems I see from patients is excessive carbohydrate intake. While fruits may be a better choice than potato chips, one small apple has 21g carbohydrates (77 calories), and one medium banana has 27g carbohydrates (105 calories). Adding one piece of fruit to each meal and snack can equate to an additional 125g of carbs or 500 calories over the course of the day. Be mindful of the amounts. Try for 4-5 servings of each per day; here’s a great infographic.

Timing of Meals

One of the most common myths I hear is that you cannot eat after 8 p.m. or all the food will be stored as fat. The second most common is that you need to eat multiple small meals a day to speed up your metabolism. Both could not be further from the truth. Eating at night will only cause the scale to give you a higher number in the morning. Recent studies have shown that fat loss is achieved in a caloric deficit, regardless of whether a majority of calories were consumed at night or spread evenly throughout the day4. When consuming the same number of calories over the day, be it between two large meals or six small meals, there is no difference in metabolic rate in overweight or obese individuals1,2. Furthermore, this was also true in healthy-weight individuals when consuming two versus seven meals per day3. Eat the number of meals you need when it works for your schedule to meet your nutritional needs each day without stressing the timing.

Alcohol Consumption
This one is short. Don’t forget that your nightcap not only has carbohydrates but it also has alcohol. Alcohol is a toxin to the body, which means that your body puts all stomach contents needing to be digested on hold while it rids your body of the alcohol. Each gram of alcohol requires nine calories of energy to break down and free it from your body. Even light beer adds nearly 80-125 calories for every 12oz, and a glass of red wine can add between 125-150 calories for a 5oz pour.

At Foothills, our goal is to get you back to the activities you love. If you’re looking for more tips on how to live a healthy life, contact a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic near you to schedule an appointment!

  1. Taylor, M. A., & Garrow, J. S. (2001). Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity,25(4), 519-528.
  2. Garrow, J. S., Durrant, M., Blaza, S., Wilkins, D., Royston, P., & Sunkin, S. (1981). The effect of meal frequency and protein concentration on the composition of the weight lost by obese subjects. British Journal of Nutrition,45(01), 5-15.
  3. Verboeket-Van De Venne, W. P., Westerterp, K. R., & Kester, A. D. (1993). Effect of the pattern of food intake on human energy metabolism. British Journal of Nutrition, 70(01), 103-115.
  4. Sofer, S., et al., Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2011. 19(10): p. 2006-14.

 

When inflammation occurs in the body, especially in your joints it can cause irritation, wearing down of cartilage, and may even lead to arthritis. Chronic inflammation if left unchecked can have damaging consequences over the long term. But did you know that the foods you eat, the quality of sleep you get, and how much you exercise can all play a role in reducing inflammation? In order to be more dedicated to our wellness goals, we must feed our bodies with the proper nutrients, rest, and exercise in order to fight off the harmful effects inflammation can have on our bodies.

What is inflammation?

The immune system is our body’s main defense system again foreign invaders. It recognizes these invaders and battles to keep all our systems as close to 100% as it can. This is done using the inflammatory process as a defense mechanism. But, just like any fighting soldier needs recovery from the constant attack, so does the immune system. It needs a break from inflammation. Otherwise, it loses the ability to resist and build back immunity.

Chronic (long-lasting) inflammation can rear its ugly head in the form of symptoms that can be all too familiar to many of us: unexplained lingering body pain, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue, weight gain, frequent sickness, and gastrointestinal issues which all can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and feelings diminishing our mental health and leading to depression and/or anxiety.

How to fight against inflammation.

What we nourish our body with has an effect on the inflammation in our bodies. So, what you eat is a good place to start in preventing and/or resetting that chronic inflammation. A good tool to use is called the dietary inflammatory index, or DII. It is an evidence-based index developed by researchers who have tested over 1,900 foods and their components by tracking markers on cells (our building blocks) in the body and overall effect on systemic inflammation.

You can start by going all in and following a strict elimination diet which basically allows you to eat only anti-inflammatory foods for 3+ weeks. Then, slowly adding in food groups that contain inflammatory properties in moderation to analyze the effects you feel.

Anti-inflammatory foods.

Anti-inflammatory foods include: vitamin C such as citrus fruits, strawberries, colored peppers, and potatoes; omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, albacore tuna, and lake trout; flavonols such as apples, berries, onions, kale broccoli; beta-carotene found in orange vegetables; flavones such as eggplants and tomatoes; and isoflavones which are found in soy. There can be some controversy over specific anti-inflammatory foods. Just make sure you listen to how your body feels and responds!

Foods to stay away from.

Inflammatory foods that should be avoided or eaten in moderation include: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fat such as fried foods, margarine, processed baked goods; refined carbohydrates such as any processed food that includes added sugar and flour, bread, pasta, candy; processed meat such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon; and excessive alcohol which is no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.

It’s more than just anti-inflammatory foods.

Although your dietary intake is a very important factor in reducing inflammation, you can’t rely on this to do all the work. Help that soldier out and add to your army with regular exercise and stress management from a mental aspect. Find something you enjoy such as yoga with meditation, reading outside in fresh air and Vitamin D, or listening to a positive podcast while at the gym.

Just like that and your habits are changing from the inside to out. You’re on your way to meeting your goals with hopefully some extra benefits of better sleep, more energy, and a body feeling 10 years younger!

If your inflammation is slowing you down, contact your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to get your move back!

“New year, new you” is a phrase far too generic and cliché.  At this point in the year, many of us have already found a way to sabotage our health goals for the New Year. In order to be more dedicated to our health goals, lets first understand one of the most the important building blocks of our body and mind, and not just to get quick results. So, let’s focus on the immune system and the anti-inflammatory diet.

What is inflammation?

The immune system is our body’s main defense system again foreign invaders. It recognizes these invaders and battles to keep all our systems as close to 100% as it can. This is done using the inflammatory process as a defense mechanism. But, just like any fighting soldier needs recovery from constant attack, so does the immune system. It needs a break from inflammation. Otherwise it loses the ability to resist and build back immunity.

Chronic (long lasting), inflammation can rear its ugly head in the form of symptoms that can be all too familiar to many of us: unexplained lingering body pain, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue, weight gain, frequent sickness, and gastrointestinal issues which all can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and feelings diminishing our mental health and leading to depression and/or anxiety.

How to fight against inflammation.

What we nourish our body with has an effect on the inflammation in our bodies. So, what you eat is a good place to start in preventing and/or resetting that chronic inflammation. A good tool to use is called the dietary inflammatory index, or DII. It is an evidence-based index developed by researchers who have tested over 1,900 foods and their components by tracking markers on cells (our building blocks) in the body and overall affect on systemic inflammation.

You can start by going all in and following a strict elimination diet which basically allows you to eat only anti-inflammatory foods for 3+ weeks. Then, slowly adding in food groups that contain inflammatory properties in moderation to analyze the affects you feel.

Anti-inflammatory foods.

Anti-inflammatory foods include: vitamin C such as citrus fruits, strawberries, colored peppers, and potatoes; omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, albacore tune, and lake trout; flavonols such as apples, berries, onions, kale broccoli; beta-carotene found in orange vegetables; flavones such as eggplants and tomatoes; and isoflavones which is found in soy. There can be some controversy over specific anti-inflammatory foods. Just make sure you listen to how your body feels and responds!

Foods to stay away from.

Inflammatory foods that should be avoided or eaten in moderation include: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fat such as fried foods, margarine, processed baked goods; refined carbohydrates such as any processed food that includes added sugar and flour, bread, pasta, candy; processed meat such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon; and excessive alcohol which is no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.

It’s more than just anti-inflammatory foods.

Although your dietary intake is a very important factor in reducing inflammation, you can’t rely on this to do all the work. Help that soldier out and add to your army with regular exercise and stress management from a mental aspect. Find something you enjoy such as yoga with meditation, reading outside in fresh air and Vitamin D, or listening to a positive podcast while at the gym.

Just like that and your habits are changing from the inside to out. You’re on your way to meeting your goals with hopefully some extra benefits of better sleep, more energy, and a body feeling 10 years younger!

If you’re inflammation is slowing you down, contact your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to get your move back!

Many people are searching for a new diet or the latest fad to lose weight, feel healthier and increase energy. Eighty percent of how your body looks is based on nutrition. You can work out all you want but until you change your eating habits you will not see optimal results. Clean eating is a healthy approach to nutrition and food. It can improve your energy levels, weight, and overall health. You can actually eat more than you did before by choosing better food options.

There are six principles of clean eating.

  1. Choosing whole, natural foods
  2. Eliminating processed foods
  3. Choosing unrefined over refined foods
  4. Including protein, carbohydrates and fat in each meal
  5. Watching out for fat, salt, and sugar intake
  6. Eating 5‐6 small meals throughout the day

Clean Foods vs Processed Foods

The idea of clean eating involves eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients. You’ll want to stay away from processed foods as they contain high levels of salt, sugar, and fat. All of these components essentially increase your risk of health problems. Refined foods have been processed or altered so they are no longer in their natural state. This results in a loss of beneficial nutrients and fibers. Refined foods are easy to indulge in and can leave you feeling unsatisfied. They may consist of white flour, white rice, pastries, sodas, sweets and breakfast cereals with added sugars.

Why should you eat several small meals in a day?

Eating several small meals a day sufficient in protein, veggies, fruits, and whole grains helps to speed up your metabolism and helps your body by burning fat. Eating like this can strengthen cells, organs, and systems in our body. They help our bodies function properly and aid our immune system in fighting off illness, disease and age-related changes. When we skip meals or eat unhealthy foods, we deprive our bodies of nutrients that requires us to function and fight off health issues. Snacking throughout the day on healthy foods helps curb our appetite. It also helps to avoid overeating. Eating small meals increases our metabolism and keeps our energy at high levels all day long. It can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Cravings stop because you are constantly fueling your body. Undereating and skipping meals puts your body into starvation mode and you are more likely to eat unhealthy foods or overeat when you feel deprived and hungry. Your five to six meals a day should contain complex carbs and lean proteins. These macronutrients when eaten together give you a sense of fullness and satisfaction. This will help your body feel full longer.

Here are a few examples of how to eliminate all processed foods from our diet and begin a healthier lifestyle:

1. Eliminate sweets – even healthy snacks can contain high amounts of sugar. Be sure to read the nutrition label.

2. Smart snack options – reach for snacks like: unsalted nuts, popcorn, fruits, veggies, hummus, string cheese, etc.

3. Choose brown instead of white – by choosing brown rice, pasta, and bread you will absorb more vitamins, fiber, and iron which are considered disease-fighting nutrients.

Foods eaten in their complex state with fiber and nutrients gives the body healthy benefits. Some of the health benefits include a healthier heart, brain, immune system, weight loss, healthier teeth and gums as well as healthier skin. Clean eating is not considered a diet but a lifestyle change. It takes about twenty‐one days to develop a long‐lasting habit. Make this change the best habit you have made for yourself and your future. Your body will thank you for it!

Learn more about how to live a healthier lifestyle with the help of our physical therapists! Schedule an appointment today with Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy.

Proper post-workout nutrition is essential for those interested in increasing lean body mass, losing weight and achieving their fitness goals. For those new to fitness, you may find yourself in a nutritional supplement store surrounded by hundreds of different options that ensure you will become a lean machine. It will empty your bank account at the same time too. Instead of going through all the different supplement options on the market, I will discuss what the current research shows regarding ingesting protein and carbohydrates post-workout for both weightlifters and endurance athletes.

Proteins and carbohydrates serve different purposes when ingested in the body.

When ingested, carbohydrates are transported as glucose molecules by insulin which is utilized as an immediate source of energy by the brain and muscle tissue (1). Insulin is considered an anabolic (muscle building) hormone since it is responsible for transporting carbohydrates and amino acids into muscle cells which initiates protein synthesis and muscle repair (2). Whatever carbohydrate is left over it is stored as glycogen in muscle tissue and the liver (1). It is important to closely regulate the number of carbohydrates ingested because once the optimal levels of muscle and liver glycogen levels are reached the body converts excess carbohydrates to fat through a process called de novo lipogenesis (3). During this process, glucose molecules are converted and stored as fat which can lead to weight gain when consumed in excess.

When more energy is required, glycogen is broken down from their storage sites in the liver and muscle.

It is utilized as the bodies primary fuel source. Fatty acids are also a major fuel source for light to moderate intensity and long duration activities (4). In the absence of glycogen or carbohydrate intake, gluconeogenesis occurs which allows the body to create glucose from non-carbohydrate sources such as amino acids. This is commonly referred to as a protein (5). It allows the body to regulate energy levels in the absence of carbohydrates but can have a negative effect on muscle tissue since it puts it in a catabolic state or muscle breakdown.

For athletes who perform long duration, low-intensity exercise, they can deplete their carbohydrate stores within 90-120 minutes (6).

At this point, the body utilizes a greater percentage of fats and proteins as an energy source which places the body in a catabolic state meaning it breaks down muscle tissue for energy. Therefore, it is essential for endurance athletes to ingest carbohydrate supplementation either during or immediately following their event in order to avoid protein breakdown and muscle loss. It has also been suggested that higher intensity training such as HIIT training can deplete glycogen levels within 20-30 minutes (6). For endurance athletes, there has been evidence suggesting consuming 3-4 grams of carbohydrates for every 1 gram of protein ingested in order to promote glycogen synthesis within the body and prevent protein breakdown.

Typically, people who perform resistance training do not need to ingest an increased amount of carbohydrates post workout(8).

For many years it had been suggested that ingesting a combination of carbohydrates and protein following resistance training was essential for increasing lean muscle tissue and to promote muscle hypertrophy due to the increased insulin response from ingesting carbohydrates. However, several research studies have concluded that the insulin response from amino acids alone is sufficient to promote muscle repair (8). Also, there were no significant changes in strength gains or muscle hypertrophy when comparing individuals who consumed only amino acids post-treatment versus a combination of carbohydrates and protein (9). The research did suggest that additional research in the area is needed to make substantial claims, but the current evidence does not suggest that a combination of carbohydrates and protein ingestion is more effective than protein ingesting alone for people who perform resistance training.

Ingesting carbohydrates and amino acids post-workout is essential for long duration workouts performed by endurance athletes who are training for 90+ minutes at a time to prevent muscle catabolism (protein breakdown) and to effectively replenish their energy stores for their next workout. However, additional carbohydrate supplementation has not been concluded to be beneficial for those completing resistance training alone since the carbohydrate and fat stores are sufficient to fuel the body and prevent muscle breakdown. For those who perform resistance training, ingesting additional protein alone has been shown to be effective in promoting muscle hypertrophy and muscle repair.

Get your move back with Foothills. With locations all around the valley, we have one near you to get started today!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224210/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16705065
  3. https://examine.com/nutrition/how-are-carbohydrates-converted-into-fat-deposits/
  4. https://riordanclinic.org/2012/04/fuel-sources-during-exercise/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22591/
  6. https://8fit.com/fitness/glycogen-depletion-signs-symptoms-and-working-out/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18834505
  8. https://breakingmuscle.com/fuel/carbs-and-protein-do-we-need-both-after-a-workout
  9. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-42

I started reading the book “Anticancer: A New Way of Life” and I was truly fascinated by what I was reading about an anti-inflammatory diet. I soon began exploring the internet for further information on the healing properties of food and how diet could be incorporated into physical therapy treatments.

Inflammation… is it good or bad for us? Well, the answer is both.

Our immune system is alerted when the body recognizes a foreign body, like a chemical, allergen, or an invading microbe, and the inflammatory process is triggered to fight these invaders off. These bouts of inflammation, which are directed at these truly threatening invaders, are necessary to protect our overall health.

However, persistent inflammation that continues to occur day in and day out without any real threat can become problematic and have serious consequences.

Chronic inflammation can lead to the development of major diseases including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis — however, their development and effects may not be felt until years later. This chronic inflammation may be coming from the inflammatory foods we are eating as well as stress and inactivity.

Inflammatory foods, as you are probably not surprised to hear, include the following:

  • Soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Fried foods
  • Processed meats like hot dogs or sausage
  • Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, and items with white flour
  • Red meat from industrialized animals who are fed corn and/or soy as well as margarine/lard

One of the most powerful and easiest tools to fight inflammation are certain foods. These anti-inflammatory foods are high in natural anti-oxidants and polyphenols, which are protective compounds found in plants.

Anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon (wild caught or farmed)
  • Oils like extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil
  • Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach
  • Fruits including blueberries, strawberries, and cherries
  • Nuts like almond and walnuts

The foods mentioned above are found in a Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet is an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. As you can see, this list does not include processed or refined foods and is more natural.

Moving towards an anti-inflammatory diet is key to long-term health.

According to Dr. Fung at Endocrine Web, “probably the most important point to remember is that while a Mediterranean diet reflects a healthy approach to eating, the more important goal is for you to find a precise food plan that works best for you; one you can stick with (more or less) day in and day out.”

To make some easy changes, consider switching out some of these foods:

  • Switch white flour for multi-grain flour for baking
  • Switch red meat from industrialized raised animals to organic meat from grass-fed animals
  • Switch soda for water naturally flavored with lemon or cucumber or try green tea
  • Switch jams, jellies, or fruit in syrup for fruit in its natural state.
  • Switch French fries or potatoes for vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, kale, spinach, or sweet potato
  • Switch white bread for multi-grain bread or sourdough
  • Use olive oil or flaxseed oil for cooking instead of lard, margarine, or sunflower oil

By making small changes, you can reap the benefits of reducing inflammation and therefore, reduce your risk for the development of major diseases. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses on eating foods in their natural state (not processed) can have huge health benefits.

If you are interested in the role the anti-inflammatory diet can play in your physical therapy treatment plan, contact one of our conveniently located clinics.

Heart disease is the cause of every one in four deaths. For survivors entering rehabilitation therapy, preventing another attack is high on their list of priorities.

With so many people affected, it’s no wonder why people are looking for ways to protect themselves from a first (or repeat) attack.

Trying out a new weight loss exercise at home isn’t the only heart-healthy habit people can adopt. Here’s what you can do to stay in touch with your heart this Valentine’s Day:

1. Get Your 7-9 Hours of Sleep

 

Sleep is the time when your body resets and heals. However, to do this, it needs the proper amount of time.

Sleep happens in stages, and getting plenty of sleep in the crucial third stage— when your immune system is restored — requires plenty of time set aside each night. Although it varies for everyone, the average adult needs between seven to nine hours each night to maintain heart health.

 

2. Detox Your Environment

Daily, seemingly small triggers can have a lasting impact on your health.

Change your environment to remove any negative factors that could be influencing your health for the worse. Stress from work or pressure from external sources will add unnecessary strain on your mental health, which, in turn, affects your heart.

3. Move It

 

Rehabilitation therapy is the safest way to get moving again after heart disease disrupts your life. A licensed physical therapist will ease you back into an active lifestyle immediately following a heart attack.

Those who are proactive about preventing their first attack can benefit from an active lifestyle as well. Activities like yoga, walking, and swimming help improve blood flow.

 

4. High on Fiber, Low on Sodium

A number of factors that increase your chances of heart disease are beyond control. Many, like family history, can’t be erased. But those who fall under a high-risk for heart disease category can still take steps to lower their chances of heart disease.

Diet plays a huge role in shifting the unfair balance. Many people go straight to working out to shed excess pounds without focusing on their diet. Ignoring your food habits can do a lot of harm.

Every calorie consumed should have a purpose. A diet consisting of foods high in fiber yet low in sodium will keep hearts clear of blood clots and reduce strain on aortic functions.

And don’t cut out fats just yet. Healthy fats, like those found in avocados and olive oil, boost heart health when used in moderation.

5. Oral Health

 

Surprisingly, regular trips to the dentist can impact your chance of having a heart attack.

Proper oral hygiene (that means flossing!) reduces plaque levels, which is one of the leading culprits behind a heart attack.

 

6. Stock Up on Vitamin C

As if you needed another reason to avoid catching the flu, colds, and other illnesses lower your immune system, which makes it harder for your heart to take care of itself. 

The following 10 foods are great natural sources of Vitamin C:

  • Plums
  • Cherries
  • Guavas
  • Chili peppers
  • Sweet yellow peppers
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Kale
  • Kiwis
  • Oranges

7. Slow and Steady

With so many ways to boost heart health, it’s easy to want to jump right into a huge lifestyle overhaul. Yet, that might not be in your best interest.

Rehabilitation therapy focuses on getting heart disease survivors moving at a pace that won’t do any damage. For those looking to start from scratch, slow and steady wins the race. Making gradual changes will help you integrate healthy habits for good.

Take each change one small step at a time. If you’re just starting a weight loss exercise at home, don’t sign up for a triathlon this weekend. Instead, begin with ten-minute walks around the block.

Dieting? Integrate high-fiber food slowly so you don’t upset your digestive system with a big change.

Relieving stress? Focus on one area at a time, such as your work life.

If you’re looking for the right rehabilitation therapy to help you recover from the effects of heart disease or just want professional help to get you moving again, schedule an appointment with one of our licensed physical therapists. We’ll be happy to get you back on track.

You’re serious about pain management. You attend regular physical therapy appointments. You don’t push yourself past your limit but you don’t sit around either.

Yet, you still feel like there’s something more you could be doing to manage your daily pain.

Have you considered how the foods you’re putting into your body influences the intensity of your chronic pain?

It’s 2019. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, we all know that sugar is bad for you. But it’s especially bad for people living with chronic pain and inflammation.

Why? Sugar raises the chemicals in your immune system that causes it to attack itself, which then creates inflammation.

Note: we’re not just talking about the typical sugars found in items like candy bars. Carbohydrates, like those found in bread, break down into sugar in your digestive system too.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans already living with inflammation thanks to a chronic illness or injury, pain management is always at the top of your mind.

You Are What You Eat

Aside from attending regular physical therapy, what can you do to lower inflammation? You can incorporate an anti-inflammation diet into your life. It’s easier (and tastier) than you would think.

Whole 30. Paleo. Keto. There are many different diets to try but, save for a few differences, their methods are the same.

The first step is cutting out sugars, carbs, and forgoing processed foods in favor of natural ones that will make your immune system lower the amount of inflammation in your body over time.

Fat Isn’t Bad

Yes, some fats are bad for you but those bad fats are the artificial, man-made trans-fats and have been outlawed in most countries. Natural fats will boost your joint health by protecting and strengthening cartilage.

The best part? They’re everywhere, and they taste great.

Avocados, fish, olive oil, berries, and seeds are all high in the healthy fats that make up the main parts of a balanced anti-inflammation diet.

One new diet trend you’ve probably heard of is bone broth. Bone broth is rich in collagen, which gives your immune system a kick into overdrive. Many advocate drinking bone broth straight from a cup, but it also serves as a great stock for some homemade vegetable soup.

Avoiding Meat and Animal Products?

If medical, personal, or religious constraints prevent you from eating meat or animal products, you can still easily follow an anti-inflammatory diet for natural pain management. After all, a large part of these diets is focusing on eating dark leafy greens and fruits.

Alternatives are easy to find. For example, you can:

Simply whip up a flaxseed egg to use in lieu of a real egg for a baking recipe.

Want the benefits of bone broth? Pectin is derived from plants and still provides a big boost for joint health.

Understanding the Inflammation/Diet Connection

As with any dietary strategy, the key to understanding how food influences your body is through understanding how each component works. Unhealthy thickening agents or food dyes lie hidden in nearly all processed food.

Most anti-inflammation diets advocate cooking at home so you know what is going into your food. This helps you avoid any additives that can trigger your immune system’s attack response. Many diets also emphasize choosing organic produce whenever possible to avoid any pesticides or chemicals that were used during production.

Diets alone aren’t enough to help you stay on top of your health when you’re dealing with chronic pain and inflammation. Request an appointment with one of our physical therapists. Our staff will work with you to create a pain management plan to live your best life.

Overindulgence is a common Thanksgiving theme. With plates full of carbs, sugars, and gravy, it is easy to veer off your normal diet and overeat. The good news is, you don’t have to fall victim this year. Instead, follow our tips about how to stay healthy on Thanksgiving.

Instead of the bird bathed in butter …
This herb-roasted turkey comes highly rated and doesn’t call for any butter in the recipe.  Or, if you prefer a vegetarian option, make these wild-rice-stuffed butternut squash. With ingredients like cinnamon powder, dried cherries, and fresh sage, this recipe may make the holiday a vegetarian feast every year.

Instead of sweet potato casserole …
Make these roasted sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon. You’ll get the same flavor, without the calories. You can top the dish with chopped pecans to give a crunch that resembles the typical topping of a sweet potato casserole.

Instead of mashed potatoes …
Swap the butter for olive oil, put down the potato masher, and forget about having to add boil potatoes to your Thanksgiving to-do list. These red potatoes are diced up and placed on a baking sheet with rosemary, garlic, and salt before baking.

Instead of canned cranberry sauce …
Make your own. Cranberry sauce is really easy to make. Plus, the sauce will turn out flavorful and fresh instead of … wiggly. An added bonus: you can make this side the night before.

Instead of high-calorie stuffing …
Try subbing out the carbs for cauliflower. This recipe is made on the stove, so it’s one less item to have to worry about juggling the cook time along with the turkey in the oven. With the additions of carrots, onions, and mushrooms — the concoction is a vegetable medley that tastes more like stuffing, which we call a win-win.

Instead of creamed green beans …
Get a whole bunch of fresh green beans to make this recipe. Chop up some mushrooms and red onion. Toss in some olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, sauté up some bread crumbs with oregano. Add in parmesan and a zest of a lemon. Top the green beans with the breadcrumb mixture and serve!

Instead of a regular pumpkin pie …
This savvy baker manages to add delights like whipped cream to her pumpkin pie while still offering a recipe with less fat and calories and the addition of some protein. For best results, make the night before; it will be one less thing to have to add to the oven the day of and you’ll achieve much cleaner cuts.

Think about the plate
Sure, those potatoes look good and cranberry sauce is one of those things you can only have during the holidays, but if you’re really trying to have a healthy Thanksgiving you need to know what a healthy Thanksgiving plate looks like.

A good rule of thumb is to think about your plate this way:

  • ½ of the plate should have veggies
  • ¼ of the plate is for protein
  • ¼ of the place is for starches

For the remaining bits, like cranberry sauce and gravy — which we think should be enjoyed full calorie — you should have very small servings. Think of them as garnishes.

We hope you now know how to stay healthy on Thanksgiving. If you find pain is getting in the way of you enjoying your holiday, let’s fix that. Schedule an appointment with our physical therapy clinic today.

What is protein and why is it so important? We often get this question at our physical therapy clinics.

Protein is one of the three primary macronutrients that our body utilizes to create energy. Its siblings are carbohydrates and fats. Together, protein, carbohydrates, and fats make up the holy trinity of nutrition. Protein gets so much of the spotlight, particularly in the fitness world, because it is the most essential building block for adding muscle to your body.

Protein is the product of thousands of smaller structures called amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds made up of mostly hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen. These amino acids are compounded together in groups and make up protein.

When amino acids and proteins from external sources (animals, plants, powders, bars, etc.) are absorbed by the body, they can be used for energy, to assist in laying down new muscle mass, and repairing damaged tissue. This is why so many fitness personalities and athletes get sponsored and stand behind protein brands. It is a very important tool in their physical development.

So how do you figure out what protein powder to buy? The major factors we look for when examining protein powders are:

  1. Type
  2. Quality
  3. Taste
  4. Price

 

  1. Type

There is a whole array of protein powder types out there and a new one seems to pop up every day. There are plenty of plant-based proteins out there (pea, hemp, soy, etc.), and they are great options for those that choose to not consume animal products. But, in this article, we will focus on the “big dogs” of the industry: whey and casein.

Whey Protein
Whey protein can be separated into 2 categories: concentrate and isolate.

  • Whey concentrate is the most common form of whey protein and is in the majority of products we see on the shelves. Whey concentrate is a byproduct of processing dairy into cheese, along with casein (we will talk about that later).

Whey concentrate is described as the most biologically-efficient protein for the human body to absorb. After it is separated from the cheese, it is processed down and filtered into a powder. Concentrate tends to be easier to mix with liquids and have smoother texture/ taste in protein shakes when compared to isolate.

However, there are some downsides to using whey concentrate. This type of protein powder usually contains more fat and sugar than whey isolate, and if you are lactose intolerance you can have some stomach irritation with consumption.

  • Whey Isolatestarts out as whey concentrate but is then filtered and processed even further. It is what is left over after almost all the carbs and fats have been removed from the protein molecules. During this process they also eliminate the lactose from the powder, making it consumable for those with lactose intolerances. The additional processing results in a purer protein source: 90% protein compared to the 80% protein in whey concentrate.

The downsides for isolate are: it is more expensive than concentrate and, unless more additives are in the powder, it will be slightly harder to mix and have a less desirable consistency compared to the concentrate.

Casein protein is the commonly forgotten stepbrother of whey protein. It is the other byproduct of producing cheese (other than water). Casein is treated the same as whey in that it is processed and filtered down to a point where it is approximately 80% protein.

The biggest difference between casein protein and its siblings is the rate at which it is absorbed by the body. Compared to whey, casein protein takes much longer to be digested by the body. Casein is still well utilized by the body, but the structure of the proteins take more work to break down, thus a slower digestive period.

  1. Quality

To identify the quality of your protein, let’s look at how we find the ratio of protein to filler in the protein powder you find on the shelves at your local supplement shop or grocery store. A simple equation is:

(grams of protein per serving/ total grams of contents per serving) X 100

= percentage of protein in a serving

The equation will give you the percentage of protein in each scoop. The higher the percentage, the higher the quality is and the fewer fillers are present in this supplement.

Examples:

Protein A: 47.2g serving size, 22g protein per serving = 47%

Protein B: 31g serving size, 24g protein per serving = 77%

At first glance, these proteins look almost identical in their value, but when diving into it much deeper, we find that Protein B has 30% more protein and less filler that Protein A! That is a significant amount. I will admit that Protein A probably tastes a lot better, but you’re spending your money on stuff that makes up that taste rather than the protein that is helping you achieve your goals.

Rule of thumb:Look for proteins > 50% protein/serving. This will give you the best bang for your buck and usually translates into more servings per container.

  1. Taste

There is not much information or insight to share here. Find what you like and what you will be able to consume consistently. If you are completely new to protein powder, try buying the smallest containers possible, or going in and buying sample variety packs. This will let you find what you enjoy and not leave you stuck with a giant tub of powder you don’t like.

  1. Price

When we go out shopping we always have to look at the price and determine the best value for our money. Protein is no different. Instead of focusing on the overall cost or the size of the container, we need to look at the cost per servings. Two tubs of protein may look almost identical in their size, shape, and weight but have drastically different value when you break it down.

Example

Protein A: $19.99, 2 lbs. total weight, 24g of protein per serving, 20 servings

Protein B: $22.99, 2 lbs. total weight, 24g of protein per serving, 28 servings

At first glance, the two options look the same and have the same weight and protein contents. Of course, we are going to buy the cheaper of the two, right? Not quite. If you do the math (price/servings) you find that Protein B will save you $0.18 per serving. If you are taking two scoops of protein every day, this means that you will save approx. $130 every year, aka a new pair of running shoes.

Bottom line: when shopping for a new supplement or fitness aid, it is important to be informed, read the labels, and buy the best option for your money.

If you have further questions about nutrition and supplementation for your fitness goals, talk with your FAST trainer or Foothills Sports Medicine physical therapist. You can even request an appointment online at one of our physical therapy clinics. We are dedicated to helping you live a long, happy, and healthy life.