5 Types of Food That Enhance Spinal Health
We all face nutritional challenges. It’s hard to find time in our busy schedules to prepare fresh, healthful meals. It can be a challenge to find foods free from chemicals, and some say modern farming practices leave foods with fewer nutrients than they once had.
Yet good nutrition is essential for a healthy metabolism and for tissue growth and repair. Nutrition determines the strength of your teeth, bones, connective tissues, and your spine.
Nutrition and the Spine
The spine is an important component of the musculoskeletal system. It contains nerves as well as muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and discs. Each part of the spine has a role in its mobility and integrity, and each part has specific nutritional needs:
- Calcium in food plays a major role in building bone density. Weakening bones can be the result of not eating (or not absorbing) enough calcium and can lead to an increased risk of spinal fracture. Certain health conditions and bad dietary choices can lead to loss of calcium in the urine. Chronic emotional stress may lead to inflammation of the digestive tract, and consequently, prevent calcium absorption. Dairy products are a significant source of calcium, and it’s also found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, and canned fish with edible bones.
- Magnesium is as important as calcium when it comes to building strong bones: as much as 50 percent of a body’s magnesium is found in the bones. A 2013 study found that magnesium led to significant improvement in lumbar spinal range of motion in all study participants. But typical American diets include much less than the recommended daily requirement for the mineral. Alcohol use, stress, and drugs used for heart disease and high blood pressure can all cause the loss of magnesium through the urine. Magnesium is found in dark chocolate and nuts like almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds.
- Vitamin D is essential for keeping your bones and teeth healthy. Did you know it also has an important role in immune function and cell growth? Your body needs Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium from the gut, so getting enough helps prevent bone loss and helps rebuild new bone. Vitamin D also is needed for the production of enzymes that strengthen the protein collagen, and it’s been shown to aid in the function of nerves and muscles. The shock-absorbing discs in the spine are made of collagen, and multiple studies have found that those with low levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of developing degenerative disc disease. Eggs, anchovies, and salmon are all great sources of Vitamin D, but 20 minutes of sunlight a day is the easiest way for most people to meet the minimum daily requirement. For those with a sensitivity to UV rays, adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily regime can also provide an adequate amount of this nutrient.
- Phosphorus works along with calcium in the bones and the blood. Approximately 85 percent of the body’s phosphorus is found in the bones, where it binds with calcium to give strength and rigidity. Low intake of phosphorus can result in bone demineralization and the loss of calcium through the urine. Thus, adequate intake of both calcium and phosphorus is essential for healthy skeletal development and spine health. Phosphorus is commonly found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cheese.
- Healthy fats are vital for the growth and repair of normal connective tissue, bones, and body fluids. A healthy diet consisting primarily of lean proteins, healthy fats and fresh fruits and vegetables is a perfect way to build a lean body and muscles that will support the spine. The fiber and carbohydrates present in whole grains and fresh produce, and the healthy fats found in olive oil, salmon, sardines, nuts, and seeds are all important parts of good nutrition and spinal health.
Keeping Your Spine Healthy
Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and good posture are all essential to the proper maintenance and continued health of the spine.
Everyone sustains a certain amount of spinal damage over the course of a lifetime. Discs can flatten and protrude from between the bones and in time, many people experience small tears in the outer layers of these discs.
If you’re suffering from back, neck, or shoulder pain, it could be related to your spine health. Contact Tuck Chiropractic Clinic to schedule an appointment. Our experienced doctors can provide personalized care to help keep your spine healthy, and help relieve pain resulting from damage that already has occurred.
Image Copyright: nerthuz / 123RF Stock Photo
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