Nutrition for Your Spinal Health
As the saying goes, “what you put in, is what you get out”. This has never been truer than with the food that we decide to put into our bodies every single day. Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for proper growth and is important for our health and longevity. We look to the food we consume not only as fuel for bodies but also as a tool to improve our overall health. Proper nutrition is necessary for good and continued musculoskeletal health. If you are looking to chiropractic care to recover from an injury or even just to maintain musculoskeletal health, nutrition becomes even more crucial. There are a variety of vital nutrients that contribute to musculoskeletal health. Vitamins such as vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin K and the minerals calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron and manganese all play very important roles in bone and connective tissue sustainability. Nutrition and chiropractic care are synergistic and go hand in hand.
Vitamins and Minerals for Spinal Health
Calcium is one of the more crucial minerals when it comes to bone stability and health. If you are not consuming enough calcium from outside sources, your body will slowly take calcium from your bones to ensure there is enough in the blood to maintain normal levels. Beverages loaded with sugar (i.e. soda, sweet tea) and high levels of phosphorus can also disrupt how calcium is absorbed in the body. Another important vitamin that helps aid Calcium is Vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand because vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium. Without vitamin D, bones can become thin and fragile and develop conditions such as osteoporosis. There are a variety of foods that are fortified with vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals to help prevent bone deterioration. Some of these Vitamin D rich foods include fatty fish (salmon), eggs, cheese, mushroom, tofu, and even orange juice. Sunlight and its ultraviolet rays also help your body produce and synthesize vitamin D. Some good sources of calcium and vitamin D are dairy products and vegetables such as tofu or soybeans.
Vitamin C is another key nutrient our body needs, however, because it cannot be stored in the human body it must be consumed daily. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, spinach and kale. Its main responsibility in musculoskeletal health is creating collagen (vital in making new blood vessels, tendons and cartilage) and in healing. Vitamin K also helps aid in the healing process and can be found in some of the same foods as vitamin C, such as spinach, kale, turnips, swiss chard, squash, broccoli, peppers, eggs and even olive oil.
The 12, B vitamins play a very important role as well. Cobalamin plays a role in the metabolism of every cell in the body while riboflavin is involved in releasing energy and the process of fatty acids. Minerals such as magnesium help support and maintain bone health and prevent diseases and can be found in foods such as whole grain products, sweet potatoes and cabbage. Copper along with the help of iron form red blood cells and contribute to iron absorption. Foods high in copper are dark chocolate, asparagus and apricots while foods high in iron are broccoli, nuts and beans and dried fruits. Other minerals such as zinc and manganese continue to aid bone health and aid in the prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis. To achieve a well-balanced diet, most vitamin and mineral requirements should be met daily.
Fat, Protein and The Spine
Fat is also vital for optimal balance and nutrition. It is important to know to there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy fats. Fat helps digest certain vitamins like vitamin A or K that are only soluble in fat. An example of a healthy fat is monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats come from avocados as well as peanut, coconut and olive oil. Poly unsaturated fats are another essential fat, but, it cannot be made by the body. However, polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as salmon, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Both types of fats help with blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation. Unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans-fat are mostly artificial and man-made; these fats are found in many processed and packaged foods.
Another vital nutrient that will assist the body in the building and recovery process for bones and muscle is protein. Protein is one of the main building blocks of the human body, tissue and bone. It is responsible for many tasks, from DNA replication and molecule transportation, to responding to stimuli and acting as a fuel source. You can get protein from a variety of sources both plant and animal based. Good sources of protein include eggs, lentils, cottage cheese, quinoa, seafood, pumpkin seeds, Greek yogurt, almonds, oats, edamame, peanuts, poultry, milk, tofu, and even hemp and chia seeds. The body thrives on protein to both construct and repair muscle, tissue and bone.
Some other beneficial supplements that aid in spinal health are glucosamine, fish oils, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Glucosamine is naturally occurring in the body and found in fluids around most of your joints, especially the knees. Too little glucosamine can lead to temporary pain and inflammation in the joints after constant wear and tear and when it is not replenished can lead to osteoarthritis. A study published by Dr. Joseph C. Marron demonstrated that patients suffering from neck and back pain as a result of disc degeneration or arthritis reported a decrease in joint pain while taking fish oil and Omega-3 fatty acids. 59% had a decrease in joint pain and 68% had completely stopped taking NSAIDS.
Nutrition and chiropractic care absolutely go hand in hand. Chiropractic care can only accomplish so much if you are not supplying your body with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that it requires. It is also important to keep track of all the variables related to your health and ensure that nutrition is not only a complement to chiropractic care. It’s all about proper balance.