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Nutrition and Your Spine

What is Nutrition?

Nutrients are the chemical components present in food, which provide energy for carrying out normal physiological functions and aid in various metabolic processes of the body.

Nutrition refers to the entire cycle of chemical changes occurring within the body based on what we eat or don’t eat. It determines the strength of the teeth, bones and the connective tissues. A healthy diet during childhood paves the way for healthy adulthood. A well-balanced diet is essential for the repair and maintenance of bones, cartilage, ligament, tendons, and muscles. Vitamin B, C, D, K, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, and manganese are essential for healthy bones and connective tissues.

Role of Nutrition in a Healthy Spine

Nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy spine. Good nutrition helps in managing pain and disability in different types of spinal disorders. Damage to the spine can occur due to daily wear and tear or due to injuries from work, sports or accidents. Poor nutrition and inadequate hydration can increase the incidence of such injuries.

A major part of the connective tissue involved in joining and holding the joints together is made up of protein and water. Degenerative disc diseases (DDD) can damage the connective tissues as well. Lack of nutrition can lead to bone disease such as osteoporosis.

Nutrients Required for a Healthy Spine

  • Adequate dietary protein, along with vitamins A, B6, C, E and minerals such as zinc and copper are essential for maintaining strong and healthy connective tissue.
  • Minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and boron are essential for healthy bones. Healthy nutrition is required for the repair and maintenance of bones.
  • Calcium helps in improving bone density. Other factors such as vitamin D, collagen, magnesium, and L-lysine are also essential for maintaining healthy bones. Calcium metabolism can be hampered due to various conditions, some of which include:
  • Chronic mental or emotional stress, which causes inflammation of the digestive tract
  • Inadequate acidity of the digestive tract, which hampers calcium absorption
  • Deficiency of certain nutrients such as vitamin D and L-lysine
  • Excessive urinary excretion of calcium due to the intake of caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee and colas
  • Various nutritional supplements are also available which may be recommended based on the specific musculoskeletal condition of the patient. Along with good nutrition, regular exercise is also important for a healthy spine.
  • Herbs, fruits, and vegetables are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components like flavonoids which can strengthen the healing process.

Conditions that can Hamper your Spine

Inflammation results in the loss of the normal cellular framework that keeps bone and connective tissues together. The inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis can damage the joints. Inflammation also results in pain which arises due to some chemical changes in the surrounding tissues.

Abdominal obesity can induce strain on the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine, causing back pain.

A good circulatory system is essential for the repair of surgical incisions, injured bone, or connective tissue such as cartilage and ligaments. The blood vessels carry all the nutrients to the bone and connective tissues. A diet rich in fat and low in protein and fiber can constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the injured areas and requiring repair.

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