“You are what you eat” also extends to your spine. If your back and the different parts that support it aren’t getting the right mix of beneficial nutrients, you may be setting yourself up for unexpected aches and pains later in life. Not all potential sources of spine-related pain can be prevented, and some even require treatment with minimally invasive spine surgery or alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles residents concerned about spine health should know it’s never too late to adjust their diets to be more spine-friendly. Below, we list some of the most essential nutrients for spine health along with some examples of foods you can eat that contain them.
Calcium is great for bones, including the ones in your spine. It especially helps the body maintain stable bone mass, which reduces the risk of developing spinal fractures and conditions like osteoporosis. Along with dairy products, foods containing calcium include:
• Leafy green veggies
• Beans and lentils
• Sardines and canned salmon
Vitamin D also plays a role in maintaining spinal bone strength by helping with the absorption of the calcium you get from your diet. The sun is a good non-dietary source of vitamin D as long as you take proper precautions. For dietary sources, consider eggs, fatty fish, milk, liver, and fortified foods such as orange juice and some cereals.
Responsible for a long list of biochemical processes in the body, this mineral is essential for spine health because it boosts bone density. It also helps spine-supporting muscles relax and contract. This, in turn, reduces the risk of having back pain related to muscle stiffness from overworked soft tissues. Magnesium can be found in:
• Collard greens, spinach, cabbage, and other leafy greens
• Avocados, beans, and bananas
• Almonds, cashews, and other nuts
• Cooked black-eyed peas and tempeh
Inflammation is a common source of spine-related pain, especially when it involves nerve irritation. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids is a natural way to reduce the tissue swelling that could contribute to pain and other symptoms aggravated by movement. Fatty acids also give the spongy spinal discs some added protection by curbing disc degeneration. If you’re not a huge fan of oysters, salmon, tuna, mackerel, or other fish or seafood with significant levels of omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, seeds, and plant oils are some other foods to consider.
Found in the bones, phosphorus is a mineral that works with calcium to keep the spinal bones healthy. It also helps with muscle contraction, new bone development, and bone density. Furthermore, this mineral makes it easier for the body to efficiently manage energy use and storage. On a related note, having more energy can give you an added incentive to stay active in a way that’s good for your back. If you’re on the hunt for dietary sources of phosphorus to keep your spine healthy, possibilities include:
• Nuts, cheese, and seeds
• Whole grains and leafy greens
• Chicken and turkey
If you’re not able to get a good balance of the vitamins and minerals mentioned here from your diet alone, ask your doctor about supplements. Also, discuss any other concerns you may have about your spine health with your primary care physician or a spine specialist before any serious issues develop.
A diet full of essential nutrients is ideal for overall wellbeing, and that includes spinal health. If you need further guidance on proper nutrition for optimal back health 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 at 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.