Updated: Nov 22, 2022
Did you know that the food you eat can impact your spine?
It's true, maintaining a nutrient rich diet that provides you with all the necessary nutrients for bone health can keep your spine healthy and supports over all bone health.
Along side regular exercise it can also help you maintain a healthy weight. The American Academy of Neurosurgeons says that 66% of patients with arthritis are either over weight or obese, and they are 4-5 times more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
There are approximately 20 essential nutrients necessary for spine health, all of these nutrients work together to keep the spine healthy over the course of a lifetime. Our nutrient intake will ultimately determine the health of our cartilage, tendons, ligaments and muscles, remember these are the connective and support structures of our bones. Certain nutrients help us repair and maintain the health of these structures. Many diseases and spine conditions have been now linked directly with our diet.
Osteoporosis for example is when the creation of new bone can not keep up with the loss of old bone.
Osteoporosis can occur at any age but it is more likely in people over the age of 50. Women are also more at risk of this especially when they are past menopause. This is because of the drop in oestrogen levels in the body, which has been linked with an increase in osteoclasts (these are the little guys that break down our bone) they are essentially good as they work to maintain, repair and remodel bone. But since there are more of them, the osteoblasts (these are the guys that make new bone) can't keep up with them.
So what are the key nutrients needed for maintaining bone health?
Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, K, B6, B12, folic acid, omega 3 and antioxidants.
And where can you find these nutrients?
Plant based Protein (beans, lentils, soy, peas)
I'm going to recommend you get most of your protein from plant based sources, I completely understand that 100% plant based does not work well for everyone and as a foodie I totally understand the joy that comes from eating the food you love. So here is why... animal products can lead to inflammation in the body. Whereas plant based protein such as beans and lentils are packed full of those essential nutrients like phosphorous, vitamin B6, antioxidants and fibre. Calcium is super important for maintaining and improving bone health. Soy beans are an excellent source of calcium you can eat it in the form of tofu or tempeh.
While veggies are generally healthy all around, they are also great for managing back issues. Kale, broccoli, and spinach work well to counteract inflammation. Each of these also contains a number of other nutrients which are excellent for your spine.
Calcium can be found in other foods, too. Such as other leafy green vegetables.
The body can produce most of its own fats naturally. But this is not the case with omega 3. Omega helps with the function of all cells. They are the building blocks of hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control rheumatoid arthritis. Seeds like flax seeds are rich in omega 3.
Inflammation is something we want to reduce and prevent, herbs can be a really important source of inflammation fighting and not to mention a really delicious ingredient. Turmeric is widely known to be great at reducing inflammation, ensure that you include a sprinkle of black pepper which has been shown to enhance the benefits of the active ingredient in Turmeric called curcumin.
Not just a trendy over priced cafe food, they’re great for your spine. They’re full of healthy fats that your body needs.
Studies on oil extracts from avocados show they can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. The vitamin K in avocados boosts your bone health by slowing down bone loss and helping you to ward off osteoporosis.
Okay, here is a bonus food to include in your diet for a healthy spine. And this is one of my favourite little nutrient power houses....
Considered to be among the richest sources of anti-oxidants and they also contain vitamin K an important nutrient for maintaining bone density.
Foods to avoid
No surprises here-anything that has been highly processed, and full of sugar. These foods can actually cause inflammation in the body. Things like while bread, white sugar and deep fried foods.
Nourishing yourself towards spine health
You can eat your way to good health! Along side exercises for a healthy spine and medical advice from you GP. All you need to do is choose foods that are great for your body, particularly for your spine.
You only have one spine and it's health is so important for your day-to-day life. So give yourself the best chance possible for a healthy happy spine with these five healthy foods. They’ll help improve your spine health, as well as your health overall.
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