Foods To Improve Your Spine Health

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Did you know that what you eat can either minimize or worsen the inflammation to support bone health? Which means what you consume can either help your back pain or make it worse?

Back pain affects most of us. According to a study, 80% of people experience back pain so it is a very common condition that adults experience their entire lives. With most of us working hard every single day, overcoming stress, and fighting the struggles of life, it is never surprising to have this anymore. As a young adult, back pain has always been my enemy as well with almost the whole day sitting in front of my computer. Aside from exercises and stretches, and sleeping positions that we can do to minimize the discomfort from back pain, being knowledgeable about our spine is not enough.

Photo from: Spine Doctor Singapore

Being mindful of everything we do and eat is important to maintain the health of our spine. According to Amir Vokshoor, MD, the director of the spine at St. John’s Health Center in California, spinal health is directly and intensely related to our nutritional status. “Our genetic predisposition and our microbiome, which relates to the gut flora and our ability to digest and absorb nutrients, can directly affect spinal pain, skeletal integrity, and our ability to heal and recover from surgery or injury,” he says.

What does this mean? This means that consuming food that is filled with vitamins and nutrients that are good for the bones to make them stronger, our tissue health, and that minimize inflammation that causes spinal ailments are essential and should be a part of our healthy, balanced diet. He suggests that eating foods that are high in anti-inflammatory properties such as vegetables, spices, plant-based proteins, etc. as a part of our daily diet is an important step to maintaining our spine health. Maintaining our spine health, and ensuring it is working properly, should be one of our primary concerns in our body because our spine is important since it is keeping us alive and moving.

A Healthy Weight Can Help Reduce/Prevent Back Pain

According to Marina Chaparro, RDN, CDE, MPH, a Miami, Florida-based clinical dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, having a healthy, balanced diet, and eating foods in the right amounts, not less or more, can help us maintain our weight which is vital in reducing and preventing back pain, and back and spinal injuries. Being overweight can put us at more risk of back pain and knee injuries because our body would tend to give us less support due to some strains in the joints. 

The spine is the backbone of our body. It gives us the support we need to be able to move freely as we want to, and so, consuming foods that are good to strengthen our bones should be part of our daily diet, too, such as Vitamin D, and Calcium aside from inflammation-reducing foods that are mentioned above. Osteoporosis and Osteopenia are bone conditions that make our bones weak and susceptible to fracture which usually affect the hips, spine, and wrist so we should work to avoid these. 

The Spine Foods

What you eat is essential to building strong bones and healthy tissues. A balanced diet filled with nutrients that can strengthen our backbones and reduce inflammation is necessary every day as Chaparro and Vokshoor suggested. Choosing and preparing the right food to eat is one of the basic steps to keeping your spine strong and healthy. Here are foods that are easily accessible and are healthy for your bones, spine, and your overall health:

Salmon, flaxseeds, seaweed, and other cold-water fish. These foods are a very good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which could help improve tissue health and reduce inflammation. If you cannot get and incorporate these every day into your diet, omega-3 fish oil supplements can be a good alternative.

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Foods with omega-9 fatty acids. Aside from omega-3, foods with omega-9 fatty acids or “good fats” are essential nutrients, too, that you could include in your diets such as olive oil, sesame oil, and avocados. These foods also have anti-inflammatory properties which are very good for your spine.

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Plant-based proteins. Eating plant-based proteins such as beans and nuts provides nutrients that your body needs without causing inflammation which is what we are trying to avoid compared to animal-based proteins. Some of these foods are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, beans for example, that are good for your body. 

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Deep green vegetables. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are a good source of anti-inflammatory which can reduce inflammation in the spine and reduce back pain. Peppers and carrots also do the same job by lowering the substance in the blood that causes inflammation. Also, green leafy vegetables provide calcium which makes it important to be a part of our diet.

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Dairy products. As has been mentioned earlier, it is important to build and maintain strong bones to prevent back pain and bone fractures. Dairy products are high in calcium which improves bone health and strength. These include cheese, milk, and yogurt.

Photo from: Milky Day Blog

Turmeric, oregano, rosemary, and ginger. Herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric contains properties that repair damaged tissues.

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Herbal teas. Aside from it being soothing during the cold, rainy season, herbal teas also contain anti-inflammatory properties and an immunity booster which makes it essential for our everyday meal.

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Foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and Minerals play an important role in our bodies. According to Dr. Vokshoor, Vitamins B1 and B12 are essential in the structural integrity of the fats, while Vitamin C aids collagen formation that is very helpful for ligaments, tendons, and herniated disc injuries.

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When keeping in mind and listing down the foods that have been mentioned to be a part of our daily balanced diet, we should also keep in mind the “no fast foods” rule. Foods high in saturated fats, added sugars, fried foods, and processed foods should be avoided since this can cause inflammation and is not good for your health.

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