Most things in life require that you begin with the basics. For instance, you crawl before you walk and learn simple math before algebra. The same applies to your health. The media is constantly flooding us with the latest and greatest superfoods, fat burners, diets, and cure-alls; however, these over-hyped, supposed panaceas are practically useless without having certain basic nutritional needs covered. It’s almost impossible to address any health concerns without addressing the basics, and when patients have just three nutritional needs covered, they do great! No matter what health condition a person suffers from, these three nutritional foundations are paramount in healing, and keeping the body healthy.
The first is adequate hydration. This one should be a no-brainer. Not only are you mostly composed of water, you can’t live more than three to five days without water. Water is necessary for the body’s biochemical reactions to work properly, to bring nutrients (including those superfoods) to cells, remove waste products, regulate temperature, and more. The optimal amount of water consumption varies between individuals. Generally speaking, I recommend patients drink half their body weight in ounces (e.g. 75oz. for a 150 lb. person) or one liter per fifty pounds of body weight. Remember, the quality of water you consume is extremely important, too. Filtered (from a high-quality filter) or glass-bottled water are generally best. For the most part, I’d avoid plastic-bottled water because of chemicals and for the sake of the environment.
The second nutritional foundation of health is adequate protein intake. Second to water, the human body is mostly composed of protein. Even though it seems that our body is relatively static in nature, it is not. We are constantly breaking down old tissues and rebuilding new ones. Protein is paramount in this process. Your skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, organs, and more, all require protein. Additionally, protein is necessary for the formation of biochemicals like neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, and so forth. Essentially, you need adequate protein for the proper structure and function of the body. Some factors to consider regarding protein are the source and amount you consume. Animal foods contain the most usable protein, and the proper amount to consume daily varies between individuals. A general guideline is one gram for every kilogram of body weight (divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms).
The third nutritional foundation to health is blood sugar regulation. “Regulation” means your blood sugar should not fluctuate to extremes from high to low (or low to high) during the day, nor should it be consistently high or consistently low. When blood sugar isn’t properly regulated, a cascade of destructive, inflammatory reactions occur which negatively affect your immune, digestive, circulatory, hormonal, musculoskeletal, nervous system and more.
Common symptoms that could indicate low blood sugar include, but are not limited to: sweet cravings; irritability and light-headedness from missed meals; dependence on coffee to “keep going/get started;” finding that eating relieves fatigue; feeling shaky, jittery, or having tremors; poor memory/forgetfulness; and blurred vision.
Common symptoms that could indicate your blood sugar is consistently too high include, but are not limited to: feeling fatigue after meals; craving sweets after meals; finding that eating sweets does not relieve sugar cravings; frequent urination; increased thirst or appetite; and difficulty losing weight.
In conclusion, a healthy, nutritional foundation is necessary to preventing and treating most conditions (including musculoskeletal conditions). I’m not saying this is all a person needs, but it’s a critical place to begin and best to have these three factors in-place before trying the latest nutritional fad, diet, or supplement.
Stay tuned for future articles that delve deeper into these three basic nutritional foundations to health.
Dr. Rob D’Aquila, DC, DIBAK – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate and Board-certified Teacher of the International College of Applied Kinesiology