When your spinal cord is injured, it can affect your body in many ways as you heal and recover. You may experience changes in your digestion patterns, bone density, weight, and even your skin, which is why it’s important to pay more attention to your diet to counteract these changes. Today, we’re going to focus on the ideal foods that can contribute to a successful recovery from a spinal cord injury. When they’re recuperating after procedures such as coflex back surgery, Los Angeles patients can also use these tips to support their recovery.
Spinach, kale, and collard greens are among the darker leafy green vegetables that can give a healing spine the nutrients it needs to recover. Some of the top beneficial nutrients found in leafy greens include:
• Magnesium – Gets oxygen to nerves and muscles around the spine
• Folate (vitamin B9) – Helps with cell production and maintenance and bone health
• Vitamins A, C, E, and K – Provide cell-protecting antioxidants
High-fiber leafy green veggies can also minimize digestive issues you may experience while recovering. Increasing your fiber intake this way could also help with bowel movements.
Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries all have an abundance of cell-protecting antioxidants, which are good for the nerves that often need to heal following a spinal cord injury. A compound in berries called resveratrol provides added cell protection as the spine heals. And since berries are full of water, they give circulation a boost as well.
When you enjoy carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin while recovering from a spinal cord injury, you’ll benefit from the beta-carotene in these orange vegetables. The body converts this compound into vitamin A, which keeps your skin healthy as you heal. There’s also a study suggesting beta-carotene may reduce nervous system inflammation.
Citrus fruits contain vitamin C in large amounts. In addition to helping with skin health, this vitamin aids in the formation of bone and connective tissues in the affected parts of the spine.
Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are packed with calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorous—all nutrients the spine needs to recover. Cashews and pistachios, in particular, may minimize issues with high blood pressure (hypertension) that sometimes affect spinal cord injury patients.
Loaded with fiber, protein, and folate, beans can also lower blood pressure. Additionally, they help with digestion problems and contribute to optimal bone health.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are just some of the tasty dairy foods you can eat to get the added calcium your spine needs to heal. Along with boosting bone tissue growth, this particular nutrient plays a key role in nerve function and muscle contraction. Dairy foods also have a lot of vitamin B12, which helps with the production of a substance called myelin, which protects nerve fibers that transmit signals.
Research suggests eating fish that contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids protects nerves and helps with nerve regeneration. The selenium and vitamin D found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel also support the formation of healthy bone tissue in the affected area of the spine.
Finally, don’t forget about water. Water prevents constipation, which is sometimes a problem during spinal cord injury recovery, and it helps with the absorption of the nutrients found in the foods discussed above. A lack of sufficient hydration as you heal could also contribute to additional sources of back pain, since your spine’s discs need to stay spongy to prevent bone-on-bone friction.
A diet full of essential vitamins and nutrients is ideal for optimal recovery. If you need further guidance on proper nutrition for recovery or you’re experiencing severe or persistent pain in your back and need to consult with a premier Los Angeles spine surgeon, don’t hesitate to call on the spinal health experts from The Spine Institute. Our pioneering physicians are revolutionizing the industry with innovative techniques and cutting-edge technology for diagnosing and treating every aspect of spine health. Call one of our friendly team members today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a personal consultation.