Advanced Physical Therapy & Fitness - March 2020

MARCH 2020



suggested — basically cutting out all of the foods that had come up “red” (highly sensitive) in the test for six months, then slowly adding them back into our diets to see if our symptoms changed — we both saw huge improvements in our energy levels, concentration, and overall health and well-being. I’m not going to lie, the elimination diet was tough. We ended up going completely vegan and gluten-free for six months. Luckily, we didn’t eat much meat to begin with, and Renee is an amazing cook. She hit a home run with pretty much every one of her vegan recipes, and because we felt so fantastic eating that way, we’ve stuck to a near- vegan diet ever since. Four years later, we do eat some butter, and every once and a while we’ll have eggs or fish, but we’ve cut red meat out entirely. I’ve never once been tempted to go back. A lot of people think eating vegan is just eating sticks and twigs, but for us, it’s not like that at all! If you use the right seasonings and preparations and cook a variety of things, vegan food can be mind-blowingly good. That whole experience reaffirmed what I already knew from my own education: Nutrition plays a huge role in how people heal. That’s why today, when patients come to my clinic for help with their recovery, we always

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Since 1980, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has used this month to double down on raising awareness of the importance of good diet and exercise habits. But for me and my wife Renee, every month might as well be National Nutrition Month! Food is one of the major topics of discussion in our household, and since 2016, we’ve been particularly mindful of what we eat. That year, both Renee and I were having health problems. My energy levels were down, my concentration was dulled, and my gut wasn’t in great shape. Renee was feeling even worse, but after seeing multiple doctors, no one could give us an answer on how to help her. Eventually, someone referred us to a clinical nutrition specialist as a last resort. I know the basics of nutrition science because I did my undergrad in exercise physiology, and I was impressed by the battery of tests this nutritionist ran. She took blood, did a full chemical workup, and was able to build complete body profiles for both of us that showed us our food sensitivities. Her approach finally got to the root of Renee’s problems and mine! It was awesome to see the whole process come together, and I was blown away by the results. After going on the elimination diet our nutritionist

chat about their diet. A big point I try to drive home is the danger of inflammatory foods because anything you eat that causes inflammation in the body can slow down your healing process. My biggest pieces of advice to fight inflammation are simple: drink more water and cut down or eliminate caffeine and processed sugars. These things are such common parts of most people’s diets that they seem normal, but they can actually get in the way of the healing process! If a patient still isn’t healing as quickly as I’d expect, or if they hit a plateau, I’ll often refer them to a nutritionist like the one I went to. Nutritionists can work with all kinds of dietary restrictions and preferences, including paleo, gluten-free, and vegan. Food is just one part of the big health picture I look at (sleep, exercise, and fresh air are other important factors), but it’s a vital one! If you’ve been seeing a PT who isn’t taking these things into account and you’ve hit a wall in your recovery, I might be able to help. Call me today at 970-301-3149 to set up an appointment! –Dr. Thomas Cleveland

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