Category Archives: Diet

Eating For Spine Health

Consuming a balanced and varied diet is beneficial for your entire body, including your spine. Nourishing your spine with the proper nutrients can help prevent back pain and improve your body’s ability to heal itself.

Would you say that your diet is healthy and you probably meet the recommendations for most micronutrients? If you answered yes, you’re one of few in the US. Below are some of the most important nutrients for your spine health and the percentage of American adults that don’t consume the recommended daily intake.

  • Calcium – 49%
  • Vitamin D – 95%
  • Magnesium – 61%
  • Vitamin C – 43%
  • Vitamin B12 – 4%

Aside from vitamin B12, it looks as though many Americans aren’t consuming enough of the nutrients essential to your spine’s health. Keep reading to learn more about the five micronutrients listed above, how they impact your spine health, and which foods they’re found in.

Calcium & Vitamin D

Did you know that calcium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand? Calcium is essential for bone health and maintaining bone mass, and vitamin D is needed for the body to properly absorb calcium. Learn more about how important calcium and vitamin D are to your spine health here.

You can find calcium in most dairy products, dark leafy greens, and legumes. Fatty fish, egg yolks, and the sun’s rays are common sources of vitamin D.95% of US adults aren't consuming enough vitamin D, a vitamin essential for bone health. Click To Tweet

Magnesium

Magnesium is a key mineral in bones and is also necessary for many of the body’s functions. When you don’t consume enough magnesium, the body takes magnesium from your bones to perform various bodily functions. This leaves your spine deficient and vulnerable to back pain.

Magnesium is found in most dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, and dark chocolate.

Vitamin C

Your body requires vitamin C to form collagen. Collagen is found throughout the body in the bones, muscles, skin, and even tendons. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, meaning it is vital for your body’s healing process.

You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B12

Your body needs vitamin B12 to form bone-building cells and red blood cells in bone marrow. Animal proteins such as eggs, fish, meat, and dairy are the most common sources of vitamin B12.

So, next time you sit down for a meal, take a moment to think about the micronutrients you’re consuming. Being mindful of what you’re eating will go a long way in preventing and alleviating back pain.

Calcium: The Key To A Healthy Spine

When you were younger, did your mom urge you to drink your milk for strong bones? She wasn’t wrong in doing so. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, with an 8 ounce serving containing about 300 milligrams.

Calcium is a key nutrient to many of your body’s functions. It supports your bone mass, heart, blood, muscles, and nerves. Calcium is absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy spine.

Sadly, it’s estimated that 70% of people aren’t getting enough calcium in their diet. When your body doesn’t get enough calcium, it steals the calcium from your bones, making them more susceptible to fractures.70% of people aren’t getting enough calcium in their diet. Click To Tweet

If you consistently don’t get enough calcium over a period of years, you’re much more likely to develop osteoporosis, a condition that affects more than 44 million people in the US over the age of 50. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of bone mass or bone mass that has become increasingly brittle.

There are two main components to maintaining strong bones and a healthy spine: reach the recommended intake of calcium every day and consume foods that help with the absorption of calcium.

Not sure how much calcium you should be consuming? See below, the recommended daily intake of calcium varies by age.

  • Adults 25-50 years old: 1,000 milligrams per day with 400 i.u. of Vitamin D
  • Adults 50+ years old: 1,500 milligrams per day with 400-800 i.u. of Vitamin D

It is important to note that consuming more than 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day can be harmful to your kidneys and can cause kidney stones to form.

Getting Calcium Through Your Diet

It is entirely possible to consume the recommended amount of calcium per day without the need for supplements. Dairy products, especially milk, are rich in calcium, as well as dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas.

Vitamin D helps your body with the absorption of calcium and, unfortunately, is only naturally found in a couple of foods, including egg yolks and certain fatty fish. However, many foods like milk and cereal have been fortified with the vitamin to make reaching your daily intake easier.
While it may be easy to waive off concern about your calcium intake for later in life, for your bones’ sake it’s important to consistently get enough calcium from an early age. If you have any additional questions on how to maintain a healthy spine, please use our previous blogs as a resource and register for our monthly newsletter.

Healthy Weight, Healthier Spine

Did you know that on average, an obese person in the US spends $1,429 more annually on medical bills? This may be in part due to the fact that obesity puts you at a much higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, among other things.

Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of developing back pain, joint pain, and muscle strains. Your risk of developing low back pain is heightened even more if you carry extra weight around your midsection as that weight pulls your pelvis forward, straining your low back. Sounds painful, doesn’t it?

Carrying around extra weight can also put unwanted pressure on other spinal structures, like your discs. Overweight and obese people are more likely to experience sciatica or low back pain due to a herniated disc or pinched nerve.

The complications of weighing in above a healthy weight are pretty bleak, but there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. A lot of the conditions listed above can be mitigated by weight loss. In fact, losing weight can even help prevent some of these conditions altogether.

For example, losing weight drastically lowers your risk of developing osteoarthritis. This is because the added weight strains your joints more, leaving you more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis. Once the weight is lost, the stress on your joints is relieved.

The two main components of weight loss are diet and exercise. It’s important to aim for good nutrition and a balanced diet. Each person’s dietary needs vary, so it may be a good idea to consult a nutritionist when you first begin watching what you eat.

As for exercise, if you’re already suffering from back pain, it may be hard to motivate yourself to exercise regularly. What you probably don’t know is that exercise actually stimulates healing in the spine.

Physical exercise causes the discs in your spine to swell with water and then squeeze it out, exchanging nutrients between the discs and the rest of your spine. When you don’t exercise regularly, your spinal discs are deprived of the nutrients they need to function properly.

In addition to maintaining a healthy spine, regular exercise also boosts your mood, helps you sleep better at night, and helps ward off those dangerous health conditions we mentioned above, to only name a few of the benefits.

 
Of course, before you implement a new exercise program, it’s important to consult your physician. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any spine-specific questions you may have.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

With new research showing pizza may help you lose weight, it’s difficult to think about ever having to eat anything else! However, we know now more than ever that the food you eat can, and will, have a major impact on your physical and emotional health. Dieticians have discovered certain foods can actually cause more harm than good. If you suffer from pain, it might be time to consider what dietary experts call an “anti-inflammatory diet.” These changes in your diet may help counteract chronic inflammation symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease.

What foods fall into the “anti-inflammatory category,” and how can you incorporate them into your diet?

The easiest foods to include or increase are fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, pineapples and green leafy vegetables. These foods are great because they are rich in vitamins A, C and K. The easiest way to eat more fruits and veggies is in a morning breakfast smoothie. What better way to start your day than with one of these delicious treats?

You can increase your whole grains like brown rice, quinoa or chia seeds, but try to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates like pasta, white bread and white rice. Trying new seeds and grains might be intimidating at first, but this chia seed pudding has cocoa powder making it perfect for dessert!

Eat lean protein, especially fish such as salmon. It is beneficial to cut back on red meat. Fish has healthy essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3. Salmon is a great option! Did you know you can cook it in your dishwasher?

Walnuts and other good “fatty” foods can help, as well. These nuts have similar qualities to fish, full of omega-3 and healthy fats that are hard to find in other foods. Throw them in a probiotic yogurt or on a salad!

If you like some heat, spicy foods can be beneficial, too! Don’t shy away from a little ginger or curry.

It can be overwhelming at first to try to incorporate all of these foods into your diet. Don’t try to do everything at once. Just start by incorporating fish oil supplements to get you on your way to feeling better!

Here you can find a recommendation of the best 15 foods to include in your diet to help with inflammation.