Everyone knows that making healthy food choices can have a positive impact on overall health, but few associate nutrition with spine health. Your spine plays a central role within the human body, and because this part of the anatomy completes so many vital tasks, it is imperative to make healthy choices that support spinal health.
The food that you put into your body will have a significant impact on the bones, muscle and other tissue that make up the spine. Making wise nutrition choices can help prevent the need to seek the services of a neurosurgeon, and can also help patients regain normal function following spinal surgery.
The Role of Vitamins and Minerals
In order to maintain proper function, the human body requires the proper balance of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron and Calcium are all important for supporting the bones, collagen and other components of the human spine.
While it is possible to obtain these vitamins and minerals from supplements, a far better approach is to eat a varied and healthy diet. The body is designed to extract these important substances from food, and supplements are not nearly as effective a delivery system.
In addition, the most rigorous supplement regimen in the world will not be effective if your diet is centered on highly processed or unhealthy foods. Supplements should be used as their name implies: to augment an already healthy diet.
What Foods Support Spine Health?
The foods that best support a healthy spine are some of the same foods that are touted as nutritional powerhouses. Examples are dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach and broccoli.
Fruits and vegetables that are orange in color are excellent sources of Vitamin A, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and apricots. Vitamin A plays a key role in repairing damaged tissue, which can help back injuries heal at a faster rate.
Healthy dairy choices can also supply the body with Vitamins B12, K and D, as well as calcium. It is important to select dairy products that are free of added sugars and excessive processing. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk and moderate amounts of cheese are all good options.
Avoiding Excess Inflammation
Doctors have long known that excessive inflammation is the source of many health problems, including trouble within the spine. Lower back pain is a common result of inflammation, and individuals who experience this type of back discomfort can make significant strides toward lessening that pain by choosing a healthy diet.
A great place to start is by increasing consumption of colorful fruits and vegetables, including berries, beets, cherries and pomegranate. It is also important to add coldwater fish that is high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, trout and black cod. Certain herbs and spices also have natural anti-inflammatory properties, including cinnamon, basil, ginger and oregano.
Foods to Avoid
The list of foods that can have a negative impact on spine health are the same culprits that can damage other components of the human body. We should all avoid consuming fast food and highly processed food, as both strip away much of the nutritional content of the base ingredients. Not to mention they add in unhealthy preservatives, flavor enhancers and massive amounts of sodium.
Hydrogenated oils can also lead to problems, and should be eliminated or consumed in very small quantities. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to avoid any food that has been significantly altered from its original form or that is shelf stable for a lengthy period of time.
Individuals who are experiencing back pain and are seeking information on treatment options are encouraged to contact Dr. Kelly Kiehm of Capital City Neurosurgery to learn how to regain and maintain optimal spine health.