The benefits of your ongoing efforts to keep your spine healthy will become apparent each time you have a day without significant or lingering discomfort. Not all potential sources of spine-related pain can be prevented, and some even require the need for minimally invasive spine surgery or back fusion alternatives. Los Angeles residents concerned about spine health should be aware that the foods you eat on a daily basis can have an impact on how your spine functions and how well it’s able to sustain the regular demands of your everyday movements. Here are a few nutritious foods to consider adding to your diet to keep your spine healthy.
Green Leafy Veggies
Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and other green leafy vegetables are good for the spine because they’re loaded with essential vitamins like A, C, E, and K that keep the bones and tissues of the spine healthy. Vitamin K helps with calcium absorption, which may reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. The magnesium in green leafy veggies also increases bone density and muscle tone.
Many of these veggies can be incorporated into meals as:
- Side dishes coupled with lean meats
- Salads topped with a healthy dressing made with vinegar, honey, or black pepper (all of which have added spine health benefits)
Berries are loaded with antioxidants that naturally fight inflammation and reduce the risk of experiencing significant pain if you develop arthritis. Blueberries alone have more than 20 different antioxidants. There’s more vitamin C in a cup of strawberries than what you’d get in an orange, which is good news for your spinal discs. Cherries and grapes have similar benefits. According to research, tart cherries have the most anti-inflammatory benefits of any food.
Dietary suggestions for berries:
- Have them at least three times a week (according to a Harvard study)
- Try half a cup a day, either as a snack or on top of a healthy cereal
- Add them to a cup of low-fat yogurt
Beets, carrots, yams, and other “earth foods” are bursting with essential nutrients absorbed from the ground. Many root veggies are full of antioxidants that promote healing of structures in cells and tissues, and they’re also high in vitamins A and C and all or most of the B vitamins. Sweet potatoes and carrots are especially rich in beneficial potassium, manganese, and A vitamins that promote the growth and development of bones and tissues.
Root veggies can be enjoyed:
- Roasted in the oven with olive oil
- Steamed or sautéed to minimize nutrient loss
- In raw form
Pineapples are an appetizing member of the bromeliad family with appealing pain-fighting properties. Research suggests bromelain, the enzyme in pineapples, may help people manage pain from osteoarthritis. The abundance of manganese in pineapples may also prevent arthritis of the spine by strengthening connective tissues. High amounts of manganese and protein-digesting enzymes in pineapples could also benefit you by:
- Minimizing flare-ups from inflammation
- Increasing the strength of the spine and its joints
- Decreasing dependence on pain or anti-inflammatory medications
Nutrients You Should Consume to Keep Your Spine Healthy
Back problems are some of the most commonly reported ailments today. Forming healthy habits and utilizing preventative measures is a good way to prevent developing painful spinal conditions. Eating the right foods and avoiding meals that have high fat and little or no nutrition is a great start to achieving optimal spine health.
The vertebral column is composed mainly of bone. As people age, the spine tends to degenerate from wear and tear and conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. It’s crucial to incorporate calcium-rich foods into daily meals and avoid substances that hinder calcium uptake. Culprits that rob the body of the important mineral include caffeine, excess salt, and the phosphoric acid prevalent in carbonated drinks. Foods rich in calcium include:
- Dairy products
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Fortified grains and juice
diet that contains plenty of calcium is of little use unless an ample amount of vitamin D is consumed. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that binds with calcium in the gut and enables the mineral to be absorbed by the circulatory system. The body naturally produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but recent concerns about sun damage and skin cancer have resulted in a decrease in sun exposure in the general population. Vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem, and many patients are being prescribed supplements to boost their levels of the vitamin. Foods that are a good source of vitamin D include:
- Oily fish
- Fortified products
- Portobello mushrooms
- Dairy products
An Incremental Approach
When deciding to make dietary changes, it’s important to remove unhealthy choices and integrate nutrient-rich selections gradually. People who attempt to radically overhaul their diets tend to feel as if they’re suffering and quickly revert to their old comfortable ways. A reasonable approach to enhancing the diet is to alter one meal a day for a few weeks and gradually replace empty calories with nutritious foods.
A diet full of essential vitamins and 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 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.