A Guide to Processed Foods for PTs | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

A Guide to Processed Foods for PTs

A Guide to Processed Foods for PTs - theManualTherapist.com

A Guide to Processed Foods for PTs

By Dr. Sean Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, CNPT, Cert-DN

Physical therapists are leading the charge to help clients improve not only their rehabilitation status but also their health problems. Many of these chronic health problems stem from poor lifestyle choices like poor sleep patterns, excessive stress, and bad nutrition. One key element in nutrition that Doctors of Physical Therapy can make a big impact on is education around reducing processed foods. 

In the past my team and I have recommended using Dr. Greger’s stoplight method for limiting processed foods. The system was easy to understand and convey during patient education; plus, Dr. Greger loves his information being spread in order to improve health. Now, a new method of categorizing processed foods has emerged: NOVA.

NOVA is a food classification system that groups foods based on the extent of processing they undergo. The system was developed by researchers in Brazil and is widely used in nutrition research.

The NOVA system categorizes foods into four groups:

Group 1: Unprocessed or minimally processed foods - These foods are the least processed and include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lean meats.

Group 2: Processed culinary ingredients - These foods are usually derived from Group 1 foods and include oils, fats, sugars, salt, and vinegar.

Group 3: Processed foods - These foods are made by adding salt, sugar, or other culinary ingredients to Group 1 foods. Examples include canned fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, and cured meats.

Group 4: Ultra-processed foods - These foods are the most heavily processed and often contain additives such as colors, flavors, and preservatives. Examples include packaged snacks, soft drinks, and fast food.

The NOVA system aims to help people make healthier food choices by encouraging them to choose more foods from Group 1 and 2 and limit their intake of foods from Group 3 and 4. As such, DPTs can help their clients by focusing them on Group 1 and 2 food items by providing them a list of food, pictures of the food, and/or offering sample menus of meals that include Group 1 and 2 foods.

If you like what you see here then know there is more in our 3 board-approved continuing education courses on Nutrition specific for Physical Therapists. Enroll today in our new bundled course offering and save 20%, a value of $60!

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