Chiropractic concerns itself with the overall holistic well-being of the client, including helping with issues such a weight loss. To that end, many chiropractors have advanced degrees or additional certifications in nutrition. Many Americans are overweight, and this can lead to chronic health problems as well as misalignment. Besides advocating a healthy diet, chiropractors have additional methods to assist people in weight loss. “More than half of all American adults are overweight and at an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and more.” These “300,000 deaths per year” are largely preventable.1 The average weight in people went up fifteen pounds over the last two decades. The average woman weighed around 140 lbs. in 1960 and this increased to 168 lbs. in more recent years. Men have gone up similarly. However, the rate of weight gain has gone down somewhat. Excessive weight gain is not irreversible, provided that each person commits to the lifestyle changes that will help them lose weight and additionally benefit their overall health.2 Many traditional health care providers do not help their patients realize the need for, or help them accomplish, weight loss goals.
Exercise and Chiropractic
In order to maintain a healthy body and sustain weight loss, exercise is important. If a body is not aligned properly, however, exercise is negatively affected. Many people may not even attempt to exercise if they are in chronic pain. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to significant weight gain. Chiropractors can alleviate muscle spasms, promote flexibility, and assist with injury recovery.3 Chiropractors can also recommend exercises for their patients to perform at home to continue treatment. Aerobic exercises can promote better digestion, circulation, and properly tone muscles. Walking is an example of a popular aerobic exercise that many people can engage in easily. Many prescribed chiropractic exercises are meant to relieve lower back pain. Prone press-up type exercises are best performed when the patient’s symptoms manifest with extension, especially when leg pain is involved. Flexion based exercises include pulling the knees up to the torso, posterior pelvic tilts, and maintaining a forward bending stretch in the sitting position. Strengthening the pelvic stabilizing muscles, also known as trunk muscles, stretching tight or short postural muscles, such as the hamstrings, and promotion of balance can also help provide relief to the pained back.4 Chiropractors can tailor their recommended exercises to their patients’ individual needs. The patients must be compliant with these activities in order to receive their benefits and further their treatments.
Other Health Benefits of Chiropractic
Chiropractic therapy can also be beneficial in assisting clients achieve better sleep. This, in turn, can aid the overall immune system. A more relaxed person, with better health, will be more likely to exercise successfully. Body and mind wellness are beneficial states for weight loss.5 Chiropractors can help their clients over their weight loss hurdles. Sleeping well is the first step. Reducing stress so that cortisol doesn’t cause belly fat is another way to help a client.6 Stress causes adipose cells to break down and move triglycerides into the bloodstream as a source of more energy. This is the body’s way of preparing for a “fight or flight” situation. However, most stressful situations people encounter in the modern world do not involve any actual fighting or fleeing, so no physical activity is performed to use up the extra calories. The unused fats are re-deposited back into the adipose tissue that surrounds the belly, which is how stress causes in increase in belly fat. This effect is consistently found to occur more in women with central fat.7
Nutrition and Herbs
There are supplements that can help a client achieve a healthy weight, in addition to fresh and natural foods. Chiropractors are often knowledgeable about herbs, vitamins, and minerals that can support a healthy immune and weight-loss system.8 It is also important not to forget the health benefits of water. Dehydration slows metabolism and calorie burning, it increases cortisol, and it decreases the desire to exercise.9 It is easier to maintain a healthy weight if a person does not feel “deprived”. Chiropractors specializing in nutrition can help their clients see the importance of a high fiber, filling diet, more popularly known as “volumetrics”. Unlike simple carbohydrates that don’t leave a person feeling full, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains pack a lot of fiber. “Just increasing fiber intake to the recommended 25 g/day for women and 36 g/day for men may help stem the obesity epidemic”.10 According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), just 10% weight loss will reduce wear and tear on joints, decrease dependence on medications, lower the risk of many diseases, increase range of motion, and reduce the incidences of diabetes and sleep apnea. Overall, there will be less injury and strain on the body.11