3 percent of individuals with progressive curvature may eventually experience severe problems that can include scoliosis and back pain, spinal problems, and nerve compression causing numbness, weakness, and leg pain.
Nutrition and the Spine
Nutrients are the chemical components of food and the building blocks of food that provide your body with the nutrients it requires for staying healthy. There are certain nutrients such as carbs, lipids, and proteins that provide energy. Water, electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins, among other things, are required for metabolic processes. Nutrition refers to all of the internal chemical changes that occur as a result of what we eat (or do not eat) on a daily basis. Good nutrition implies that what we consume is beneficial to our health.
Food plays an important role in our bodies after we digest it. Tissue growth and repair require proper nutrition. We obtain adequate nutrition by eating foods and taking supplements that contain all of the necessary ingredients. We also get good nutrition from being able to completely digest what we eat. The nutrients must then be absorbed into the blood and other body fluids. With the proper nutrients delivered to the cells, metabolism, or bodywork, can occur in the most efficient and healthy manner.
We harvest fruits and vegetables before they are fully ripe. They are then transported thousands of miles to our stores. Food that is not quite ripe when picked lacks its full nutritional value. When food is harvested too early, it does not bruise as easily when loaded on and off trucks. It will look nice when you buy it, but it will not provide you with all of the nutrition you require.
What Effect does Nutrition have on the Spine?
There are up to 20 essential nutrients required for optimal spine and bone health, all of which work together to keep bones healthy and strong over time. Nutritional status influences bone and connective tissue strength and can predict how well the body repairs its cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscle infrastructure. Diet has been linked to a variety of diseases and spinal conditions. Osteoporosis is an example of a spine-related condition that has a direct relationship to nutritional status. Your nutrition will determine the strength of your teeth, bones, and connective tissue. Before we are born, we begin to develop our skeleton and connective tissue. Our childhood diet has a significant impact on our adult strength. What you eat throughout your life will determine your ability to repair bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Everyone’s body tissues must be replaced due to normal wear and tear. Some of us must also repair damage caused by injuries or surgery. Our diet provides the raw material for repair. Vitamin C, all B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin K, and the minerals calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, and manganese are all essential for bone and connective tissue health. Drinking enough water is also essential. Your spine serves as your backbone.
The bony sections of the spine are known as vertebrae. There is a total of 33 of these bones. A tough cartilage disc with a fluid center sits between each vertebra. These discs act as a cushion, allowing your backbone to bend and twist. Discs also serve as shock absorbers when we walk, run, or jump. Each vertebral segment is made up of bone-on bone with a cartilage cushion in between. They are joined by connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons.
Degenerative disc disease is an example of connective tissue damage caused by nutrition. Everyone will experience some degree of spine damage. This happens throughout one’s life. The discs between the bones can flatten and protrude. Most people will develop small tears in the outer layers of these discs over time. If you eat poorly, you are more likely to sustain an injury. You’re also less likely to heal well. Inadequate nutrition means not getting enough vitamins C, A, B6, and E, as well as zinc and copper.
Daily wear and tear, as well as injuries from work, sports, or accidents, can all cause spinal disc damage. Good nutrition and adequate hydration (consuming enough fluids) are critical to your body’s ability to repair the damage and recover from the inflammation that causes back pain. Collagen is the main component of connective tissue, which includes the cartilage between your joints as well as the ligaments and tendons that hold them together. Collagen is a protein and water compound. Strong collagen fibers necessitate a steady supply of protein from the diet. They also require vitamin C, as well as vitamins A, B6, and E, as well as the minerals zinc and copper.
Back Pain and Inflammation
Good nutrition is essential for healthy repair. Poor nutrition can cause damaging inflammation in your spine’s joints. Inflammation destroys the cellular framework that connects bone and connective tissues. According to research, some people with osteoarthritis experience more rapid joint damage. This is because their bodies contain more inflammatory chemistry. People with bone or cartilage changes in their spine may or may not experience back pain. Many people, for example, have x-ray images that show flat and bulging discs.
They could also have brittle bones. Despite this, they are not in pain. The sensation of pain is caused by tissue changes caused by inflammation. Inflammation promotes the development of new blood vessels in joint tissues. This process also results in the formation of new nerves around joint cartilage. Doctors believe that this new nerve growth is the cause of back pain and inflammation. Increased tissue activity and swelling caused by inflammation can make the new nerves extremely sensitive. All of the steps in this inflammatory process (new blood vessel growth, new nerve growth) feed off of one another in an endless cycle. Stopping inflammation reduces pain and slows joint damage.
Obesity and Back Pain
Abdominal obesity worsens spine problems in significant ways. The muscles and ligaments that support your spine can be strained by belly fat. Your spine’s joints are especially vulnerable to daily wear and tear due to a lack of support. Most of us gain weight by eating too many starchy, refined foods that stimulate insulin release. Insulin alerts enzymes in your body. These enzymes raise the number of inflammatory cells.
They also raise cholesterol levels and constrict (shut down) blood vessels. All of these actions contribute to the increase in pain levels throughout your body. Abdominal fat is made up of the cells that are most active in producing the chemistry that causes damaging inflammation in all of your joints. The more abdominal fat you have, the more inflammatory chemistry you produce. Some thin people are also vulnerable.
Spine Health and Nutrition
Here are some changes you can make to improve the condition of your spine. By following these general rules, most people will see results in less than two weeks:
- Every day, drink at least eight large glasses of water or herbal tea. Avoid fruit juices and other beverages that contain shading or preservatives. This includes soft drinks.
- Avoid simple sugars. Reduce your intake of sweets and starchy, refined white flour foods.
- Avoid packaged foods that contain preservatives and shading.
- Take a high-quality multivitamin/mineral supplement with each meal three times per day.
- Take a pure fish oil supplement if you have arthritis or an inflammatory condition. Most people benefit from one to three grams of combined omega-3 fatty acids per day.
- Include vitamin D3 in your supplements; aim for 800 IU to 1000 IU daily. If you have a history of malabsorption, you may require more (e.g., celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, gastric bypass surgery).
Dietary changes over time can help your spine condition. If you are overweight, seek the assistance of a health professional to help you lose weight, particularly abdominal fat. The majority of people can do this safely:
- Eating fresh, raw, or steamed vegetables on a daily basis.
- Simply eating two or three pieces of fresh fruit per day.
- Eating five to seven fish meals per week.
- Simply eating three to six ounces of clean, lean beef, poultry, lamb, or game meat per day – eggs are also an excellent source of protein for the majority of people.
- Using olive oil on salads and in cooking on a daily basis.
- Consuming raw nuts and seeds High quality, healthy fats are provided by almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
If you do not have a regular exercise routine, invest in professional instruction to learn how to strengthen your muscles and protect your joints. Certain exercises will be beneficial to some spine conditions while potentially harmful to others. Therefore, an exercise professional is your best bet for advice on creating a safe, effective program tailored to your specific needs. Naturopathic doctors can also assist patients in improving healthier nutritional habits for the spine. Naturopathic doctors are experts in the art and science of natural health care. To achieve better health, partnerships between medical doctors and naturopathic doctors are becoming increasingly common around the world.
We’re here to help STOP THE PAIN
If you are an adult living with scoliosis or have a child with this condition and need a doctor who specializes in orthopedic surgery,
call the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.