Dietary Changes to Support Healthy Spinal Discs
By: Dr Robert Fink, Chicago Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
“You are what you eat” isn’t just a random saying, but a fact. The food you eat has a direct influence on your overall health and wellbeing. Healthy diet fends off various diseases, helps you manage weight while unhealthy eating pattern does the opposite. But even so, we rarely take our spine into consideration when thinking about food. Believe it or not, your nutrition can promote the health of spinal discs as well. Throughout this article, we’re going to show you what you should include in your diet for healthy spine without pain and mobility limitations.
How nutrition affects the spine?
Diet determines how healthy someone’s teeth or bones are, as well as their connective tissues. Humans start to build their skeleton and connective tissue before they are born; during childhood years the diet poses as the crucial factor that determines how healthy a person will be in the adulthood.
The spine is our backbone that bears our weight and helps us move and nutrition plays an important part in its strength and flexibility. Degenerative disc disease is a perfect example of the damage that is contributed by inadequate nutrition. Improper diet means the spine doesn’t get enough vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients to stay healthy and strong. In fact, you are more likely to have spinal injuries and diseases if your diet isn’t healthy.
The right foods for healthy spinal discs
It’s never too late to introduce healthier eating habits to your lifestyle and preserve the health of your spine and all its discs. In fact, eating right foods can reduce back problems you’re already experiencing. Below, you can see what items to include into your diet for spinal health.
It’s an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and plays a significant role in tissue repair and bone formation. The vitamin also helps the organism to absorb protein more efficiently.
Food sources: beef, calf, and chicken liver, dairy products such as milk, butter, and cheese, eggs, orange fruits such as cantaloupe, nectarines, and apricots, green vegetables.
The vitamin is necessary for bone marrow health and helps spine function properly.
Food sources: meat products such as liver, poultry, fish, red meat, dairy products, eggs.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production which is a significant part of the process wherein cells form into the tissue.
Food sources: fruits, vegetables.
The “sunshine” vitamin helps organism absorb calcium more efficiently.
Food sources: egg yolk, fish oil.
Just like Vitamin D, this vitamin also helps the body to absorb calcium necessary for spine health.
Food sources: green leafy vegetables, liver, pork, dairy products.
The body needs iron to help cells remain healthy and enable them to receive oxygen while eliminating carbon dioxide. The mineral also contributes to the production of myoglobin, necessary for healthy muscles that support the spine.
Food sources: fish, pork, liver, shellfish, red meat, poultry, lentils, green leafy vegetables, eggs, grains, soy, beans.
Magnesium helps maintain muscle tone and density, helps them contract/relax, thus preventing back problems.
Food sources: whole grains, seeds, beans, potato, avocados, bananas, green leafy vegetables, kiwi.
The mineral is crucial for bone health; it maintains bone mass throughout the lifetime. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, calcium supplementation has a positive impact on bone mineral density.
Food sources: green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, almonds, brown sugar, dairy products.
What else you can do
- To fend off problems affecting spine discs and manage existing issues, nutrition is an excellent way to start. Besides including food groups listed above into the menu, you should also do the following:
- Limit or avoid consumption of heavily processed or refined foods that have little to no nutritional value
- Make sure you eat nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
Spine Health Conclusion
Although we don’t think about the effect our diet has on the spine and its discs, it’s never too late to change things around and make sure that food you eat contributes to healthy back and freedom of movement. Simple lifestyle tweaks can mean a lot and introducing food groups from this article into the menu can help you preserve strength and health of spinal discs to avoid any future problems.