Wounded warriors see hope, health through holistic nutrition.

Author:McShane, Jolie


Picture today's "typical" U.S. military serviceman. He's in his early 20s. If he's lucky, his mother and Uncle Sam have cooked for him his entire life, relieving him of the need to learn how. When left to his own devices, he gets by on a steady stream of delivery pizza and energy drinks. Not exactly the diet of champions. But he is a warrior and his body is young, strong and resilient. His daily boot-camp-inspired regimen of running, push-ups and pull-ups keeps him lean and fit.

Now picture him again--returning from the battlefield, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, loss of limbs, gunshot wounds or post-traumatic stress.

With these injuries, the standard exercise fare of running, push-ups and pull-ups may no longer be an option for keeping this warrior in the fight. According to a recent survey of 13,956 wounded ill or injured military service members and veterans, this warrior is statistically likely to be overweight or obese, experience insomnia, struggle with mental and emotional stress and be taking a multitude of prescribed medications.

This is the reality for many wounded ill and injured warriors the non-profit organization Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness (SFHW) serves at the U.S. Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Lejeune, NC.

It's also the reality for many service members, veteran patients and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, MD who attended the first SFHW workshop on holistic nutrition at WRNMMC on June 23. Attendees will also receive a post-workshop assessment, coaching and sustained contact--all thanks to a donation by workshop sponsor PLH Group, Inc.

SFHW's Warrior Wellness Program, which also includes adaptive functional movement exercise and mindful yoga therapy, starts with nutrition. The focus is on delivering nutrient density through juicing, smoothies and "super foods," such as spinach, kale and chia seeds, to help support tissue and injury repair, reduce body fat, increase energy and enhance overall mental and physical health, according to Elijah Sacra, SFHW executive director.

"Holistic nutrition was a tough sell to the guys at Camp Lejeune at first," Sacra admitted. "There's a huge link between food and mood, but to a bunch of young Marines, it sounds like some kind of new-age craziness. Then again, when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, you get to the point where you're willing to try anything."

A more helpful approach,...

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