Chiropractic therapy is holistic in that it aims to help the whole person, including giving advice on nutrition. Chiropractic tries to address the root of the patients’ complaints. Alignment is one of the ways patients receive relief, but chiropractic care also can help in a variety of other areas, including decreasing digestive complaints. The care is complemented by patients engaging in proper nutrition.1 The American Chiropractic Association Council on Nutrition defines the “Building Blocks for Healthy Eating” as consuming 6-8 (8 oz.) glasses of purified water every day, 4-6 servings of complex carbohydrates from frozen or fresh vegetable and beans (or vegetable juices), 2-3 servings of complex carbohydrates from starches, 2-3 servings of protein (including vegetarian sources), 1-3 servings of fruits (fresh, frozen, dried, or even juice), 1-2 servings of unsaturated/non-hydrogenated fats, and no servings of simple (white flour/sugar) carbohydrates. Of course they recommend avoiding known food allergens.2 Healthy eating does not have to be boring, nor does the patient have to give up all of the foods that they enjoy, unless they are allergic to that food. Dessert, candy, and other foods like those can still be eaten in moderation. Planning out and preparing meals and trying out recipes is a fun way to keep a diet fresh. Breakfast is an important meal and should not be skipped, but it is not the biggest meal. Lunch is often meant to be the bigger meal, though the patient should not eat themselves into a food coma. Food should not just become “fuel”; eating is allowed to be, and should be, an enjoyable and sometimes social activity. Snacks are fine, though they should be more akin to some nuts or fruit rather than candy.3
Ken Edwards, DC, DACBN, CCN and William J. Rice, DC, DACBN, CCN, FACCN wrote about how our diet today is different from our ancestors. Historically, we have had 100,000 generations of hunter-gatherers, 500 agricultural generations, 10 of the industrial age, and the last 2 generations “have grown up with highly processed fast foods”. Because today’s diet is out-of-step with our evolution, Edwards and Rice suggest that our current diet “fails to provide the biochemical and molecular requirements”. Therefore, they suggest people follow the ACA’s recommended diet, which would bring us closer to the Paleolithic diet our genes need, instead of the 1992 USDA Food Pyramid.4 Dr. Robert Silverman, DC, DACBN, DCBCN recommends an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements such as a multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, probiotics, and phytonutrient supplements, though every patient is different and their diets should be tailored to their needs.5
Some chiropractors get advanced degrees or certifications in nutrition. The Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition, for example, was formed to credential and certify chiropractors in nutrition. Its goals are to enhance the health of clients and “protect the public interest”. The CBCN operates under the ACA and is a member of the Board of Chiropractic Specialties. They offer chiropractors the certification Diplomate in Clinical Nutrition (DCBCN).6 Chiropractors must have an accredited degree for Doctor of Chiropractic, a completed post-doctoral program in nutrition, a license for practicing chiropractic, among other evidence of their knowledge of the field of nutrition. Many chiropractors, credited and uncredited, may provide ideas for building a healthy diet for their patient.7
A diet of nutrient-dense foods can help the body stay in balance. Chiropractic care has a goal of helping patients structurally and with nutrition, for the body to correct its own health problems. There is no one chiropractic diet, but nutritional advice has been given since 1895 in the chiropractic profession. Some practitioners advocate a vegetarian diet, others promote diets high in saturated fats and animal protein, and some focus on other health traditions, such as Ayurvedic medicine, according to Martin Hughes, DC. For the most part, chiropractors will advise organic, whole, and local foods, and they will encourage the avoidance of refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup. It is important to remember that every person is different and will have unique dietary needs.8 Some chiropractors could recommend a vegan diet, which means that the patient would not consume any animal products. Some may choose to go further and eliminate other, non-food animal products from their life. There are numerous vegan substitutes for animal products, and the health benefits of fruits and vegetables are undeniable. A vegan diet reduces the risk of many conditions, such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease.9 Not everyone can follow a vegan diet, such as those with allergies to plant products, but everyone can do their best to live the healthiest lifestyle for their individual type.