A Deeper Understanding of Nutrition Can Enhance Your Bottom Line
By Perry Chinn, DC
The past few years have been an interesting, sometimes surprising, transition for not only our nation's economy, but also for the chiropractic entrepreneur. The old proverb, "May you live in interesting times" is reputed to have a dual meaning, one being a curse, the other a blessing. We indeed are living – and practicing – in interesting times. And the advantage lies with those who choose to see today's practice as an opportunity.
While at Parker in Las Vegas this past January my business partner Dan SwinDell and I coined the term "nutritionally enhanced chiropractic adjustment". As a Gonstead diplomate for 22 years I very much understand and appreciate the value of a specific adjustment. These many years of practice have also revealed a frustration in the net effect, the long term results ideally sought after. I have realized that if the cellular matrix comprising the intervertebral disc and supporting ligaments and tissue is not provided optimal nutrition and circulation, the best, most specific adjustment in the world will not have an optimal effect. In fact far less than optimal is the norm.
Having been in practice now for over twenty-five years, it is increasingly evident that the "good 'ole days" of simple insurance and relaxed practice methods are gone. New and productive ways to increase our service level, provide increasingly higher levels of value for these services are demanded; yet now more than ever it is prudent to keep a sharp eye on financial 'bottom line' of your chiropractic office.
Understanding the Application of Nutrition
The appropriate application of nutrition in chiropractic practice can be a challenge to understand, let alone integrate successfully. The easy route is to rely on the catalogs of the nutritional and vitamin companies. We can portray to our patients that we offer nutrition as part of our patient wellness program, however the slippery slope is finding that we have been reduced to another expression of the allopathic model.
We perceive or even go as far as to "diagnose" a nutritionally-related malady and then let the catalog do the prescribing. More rewarding is taking the time to do the research, whether through formal education in pursuing a nutritional certification or via the route of individual research and education. I have found that the latter was necessary for me to truly understand the prominent role that holistic nutrition plays in enhancing the level of wellness of my practice clients.
I was educated in chiropractic much like others in our profession. Nutrition was definitely not the primary focus, nor did it follow in a close second. While our holistic focus made it easier to absorb and embrace nutritional concepts at a level exceeding most allopathic educational programs, the level of understanding at graduation remained rudimentary at best.
The increasingly sophisticated purchaser of chiropractic services is seeking a more complete answer for their personal health and wellness. While chiropractic can, and I believe should, be at the core of what we as chiropractors offer, a deeper understanding of function is also needed. Exercise, nutrition, other life-balance issues and successful integration of diverse wellness modalities all play a part in the complete wellness picture for the patient. In this article I would like to expand on the nutritional component, most specifically on the subject of nitric oxide precursors and effective antioxidants.
In February of 2011 Bob Anderson, MD and I co-wrote and presented an article for The American Chiropractor discussing the L-arginine nitric oxide precursor and the result of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.1 Since that article was published, my understanding and awareness of not only the impact of nitric oxide on whole body wellness greatly increased, but also the delivery methods of nitric oxide and the vital importance of effective antioxidant support and the role of exercise in the physiological pathways.
While the subluxation is inarguably our primary focus and the life-limiting effects of subluxation apparent to all of us, I find it increasingly difficult to distance myself professionally from the equally harmful effects of what is termed "metabolic syndrome". This collection of clinical risk factors may include hypertension, obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and other high risk indicators, depending on the author and study.2,3
Our patients are by and large ignorant of the causal factors of most of their ill-health.
They might hear that it is good to eat higher amounts of foods containing Omega 3's, yet not understand that it is not so much the presence of the Omega 3's but the over-abundance of Omega 6's that is the real culprit. They might be ingesting large amounts of "good" vitamins and essential metabolic precursors, yet not understand that the lack of regular exercise can significantly negate any net health benefit. This lack of understanding can and does result in very real and quite severe health implications later in life.
And here is another factor…at the risk of a heretical statement…the best adjustment in the world will not provide the nutritional elements and benefits that they need to live their life to the fullest. Mindful supplementation and diet modification for the chiropractic health consumer is key for realizing a complete wellness model.
We can expand our patient's awareness and improve the financial viability of our practice by introducing the patient to a more profound understanding of relevant nutrition.