Food as fuel...and much more!

With regard to health and fitness, few things bring about as passionate a response as nutrition and diet.  Many advocate to be experts on the topic but it’s hard to wade through the noise to know who is right and who is wrong. We are all aware that a plethora of things impact how we view food and choices we make when we eat.  As Physical Therapists, we routinely meet people who have struggles with their diet - limiting their ability to move well or live life to its fullest.

At Catalyst, we generally refer to nutrition and the food we eat as “fuel”.  We love the analogy because, at its core, the food we eat provides energy.  Building blocks like macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) in food contain “calories” or “energy”, but we realize it’s not just about “calories in / calories out”.  Our relationship with food is complex, just as being human is complex, and regarding it strictly as fuel is only telling part of the story. Food also includes micronutrients, phytochemicals, water, and more. But for our purposes, we’re going to use ‘fuel’ to encompass all the components we nourish our body with that make us “GO!”

One thing is for certain, our industrialized diets are making us sick.  The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) writes “a survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute which asked Americans about their diet from the previous day. Only 9% of those asked consumed three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit on the previous day. One in nine surveyed had no servings of vegetables or fruits on the previous day.  Conversely, the typical American can consume as much as 48 pounds of high fructose corn syrup a year mostly via soft drinks.”

Likewise, we are all aware that obesity numbers are on the rise not just in the United States but in all westernized societies.  Obesity is associated with many medical issues, but a connection to persistent pain is one that impacts our practice as Physical Therapists.  A study done in 2012 by Stone et al, showed that obesity was associated with a 68%- 254% increase in pain.  And it turns out that it isn’t just the mechanical stressors of added weight that causes the pain increase but also the state of chronic inflammation caused by increased adipose tissue mass (i.e. body fat!).  (Stay tuned for our best tips for anti-inflammatory fueling tips!)

Over the next few days we will provide 10 tips to help better connect you to your diet and help you use nutrition as a way to transform your health.  We will help guide you through anti-inflammatory food choices and some healthy practices that will get you on the road to moving and feeling better. Start by referencing this guide (see image) from the NTA to understand the balance between diet and lifestyle.