Dr. Morrison Answers Your Questions on the Connection Between Nutrition and Physical Healing
Who doesn’t want a quick, easy, fix for all of life’s problems? While we can’t necessarily give you that, we can give you some quick, easy tips to help make your healing process as smooth as possible. Our office sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Morrison to talk about nutrition as it relates to musculoskeletal injuries and inflammation. Below, we discuss how eating a vegetable-centric diet can help you heal faster, how to lessen chronic joint pain, and the one thing everyone should be doing to live a healthier lifestyle.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Office of Dr. James Fowler, PT, ACSM, CEAS: Tell us a little about your background and what you do.
Dr. Jeffrey A Morrison, MD: I am a medical doctor and a certified nutrition specialist. I’ve been in practice for over 20 years in Manhattan. We’ve been taking care of patients with all sorts of health problems- everything from people looking to optimize their health, to people looking to lose weight, to people looking to recover from surgeries and chronic issues.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: We understand that you merge both integrated and functional medicine. Please explain this approach.
Dr. Morrison: Our philosophy is that our body has an innate ability to heal itself and all we have to do is provide it the right circumstances to do so. This helps us to arrive at a beneficial solution for the patients much more efficiently. We involve integrated medicine because we’re looking at a holistic approach, including not only what medicine is being looked at, but also physiology, biochemistry and biology. It all intersects. This awareness helps patients to find a quicker treatment path. That’s why I love working with James Fowler, because he shares the same beliefs. Any patient that I send to him just gets better quicker through his approaches.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: What is the relationship between nutrition and healing within the musculoskeletal system?
Dr. Morrison: First and foremost, we always start with the meal plan because an anti-inflammatory meal plan is the foundation for healing. Specifically, the simplest thing we can tell people to do if they want to speed up their healing process, is to avoid sugar, dairy and wheat. Because oftentimes, if there’s too much of that in the body, the body literally becomes inflamed and acidic. If you’re eating foods that aggravate inflammation, then in addition to what the body has to manage to heal the injury, it overloads the body’s resources. Then to add to that, if the body is too acidic because of the foods a person is eating, that acidity impairs oxygen delivery to the tissue. So one more issue to deal with is that, without oxygen, you can’t drive cellular energy, and again you can’t heal.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: There is a growing acceptance that certain foods create an inflammatory response in the digestive system. Can you talk about the relationship of inflammatory foods and the healing process, particularly as it relates to musculoskeletal injuries?
Dr. Morrison: When a person is not healing as expected, we have to consider the possibility that there’s something that’s blocking the healing process or slowing it down. There’s no question that for some people, foods can be inflammatory. The obvious example is that if a person is allergic to, let’s say strawberries, then they have an allergic reaction when they eat it. It’s also the reality that the food that we’re eating today is a little different from the foods our parents and grandparents ate fifty, or even eighty, years ago. It has to do with farming practices, the quality of the soil, and the pesticides that are being used. It’s also about how the food is produced and harvested and then brought to shelf. With the quantity that we’ve been creating, sometimes there’s a sacrifice in quality.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: Can you list some examples of foods that are considered inflammatory?
Dr. Morrison: There’s a strong relationship with certain types of vegetables, called Nightshade vegetables, and joint inflammation. Nightshade vegetables include tomato, white potato, eggplant and peppers. There’s no blood test to determine who will experience inflammation caused by nightshade vegetables, but if a person is having chronic joint inflammation and they’re eating nightshade vegetables, all they need to do is avoid those foods for two weeks. After two weeks, they can try to introduce the vegetables back into their diet and see how they feel. If a person happens to be sensitive to nightshade vegetables, they feel better when avoiding those foods, then when they reintroduce them, they see a pretty significant increase in inflammation.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: Why are these vegetables inflammatory?
Dr. Morrison: They have a chemical in them called lectins that some people just don’t metabolize properly.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: What other conditions do you often see that could affect the healing of musculoskeletal injuries?
Dr. Morrison: Nutritional deficiencies, allergies that are not controlled, and unidentified digestive issues such as parasites- they’re more common than people realize. All of these things cause chronic inflammation of the body. Infections like Lyme disease, or a reactivation of an underlying autoimmune disease could also cause inflammation. And then there’s toxic exposure, whether it be eating too much fish causing heavy metal intoxication, or exposure to mold toxins that accumulate and cause the tissue to be inflamed. All these things live in the tissue.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: Are there universally accepted diets that create a healthy body and healthy lifestyle, or is it different for everyone?
Dr. Morrison: I believe in the concept of metabolic typing or in doshas (body types). I believe that different body types require different nutritional make-ups. Some people do better with more of a vegetarian diet, some people do better with more of a meat and fat diet. Seasonally, the diets should change as well. Both the body type and the season- it’s a good idea to eat based around those two circumstances.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: How does physical therapy address these issues?
Dr. Morrison: The great thing about physical therapy is not just the prescribed treatments.
What I love about James is that he does hands on physical therapy, which helps the tissue to have better lymphatic drainage and improve circulation. He also works on the connective tissue in a way that really helps pump out the inflammatory chemicals built up in tissue which cause a lot of the pain. That helps to increase circulation, which promotes the healing process.
Dr. Fowler’s Office: If you could change one thing about people’s eating habits, what would it be?
Dr. Morrison: People should be drinking more filtered, clean water. Not all filtered water is created equal. There’s oftentimes parasites in the water, heavy metals, and worst of all is chlorine. Chlorine is used to disinfect the water, then we drink it and it disinfects the digestive tract. It’s like drinking antibiotics which causes bacteria to become off-balance. Even if it’s just a charcoal filter, you’re getting rid of the chlorine, the parasites and the heavy metals. So drinking clean water is of the utmost importance. Also, eat more vegetables. If you’re eating organic vegetables, you’re getting water and nutrients. Vegetables are highly anti-inflammatory and alkalinizing, so eating them accomplishes exactly what we want for optimal tissue health, recovery, and cell health.
Our take here at JFPT? If you pay attention to what your body tells you, and make adjustments based on those needs, you may have a better chance at recovering from injuries faster and stronger than ever before. Thank you once again to Dr. Morrison for answering all of our questions and providing such in-depth responses. Now go eat some broccoli!
For more information on Dr. Morrison’s practice, please visit The Morrison Center website.
About Dr. Jeffrey Morrison
Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is an award-winning medical doctor, leader in the field of Integrative Medicine, and champion of a nutritional approach to healthcare. His focus is on preventing and reversing degenerative and chronic diseases by enhancing the body’s innate ability to heal and detoxify itself.
In 2002, Dr. Morrison opened The Morrison Center, where he has used his successful integrative medicine and nutritional approach for patients with many types of medical conditions.
Dr. Morrison has an undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and received his medical doctorate from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is trained in Family Practice and Environmental Medicine. The focus of his practice is Integrative and Environmental medicine.
Dr. Morrison is the author of Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind and has made many television appearances including The View, written journal articles, chapters for textbooks, and has lectured throughout the country in the field of integrative and complementary medicine. Visit, www.morrisonhealth.com to follow him on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and watch his videos on YouTube.