Nutrition and Diet Tips

A healthy diet calls for a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins and provides many benefits, such as helping achieve and maintain a healthy weight level and providing one with enough energy and vitality for daily exercise. In addition to eating a variety of healthy foods for adequate nutrition, there are several other aspects of self care that help support and maintain a healthy diet over the long term.

Drink Plenty of Water

It is vitally important to drink plenty of water as part of a healthy diet to nourish the entire body, which is comprised of about 60% to 70% water. Drinking water to stay well hydrated allows nutrients to travel to the major organs in the body, helps remove waste and helps protect joints and organs.

Water is also important for the spine and back. For example, intervertebral discs consist largely of water (at birth, discs are about eighty percent water, although this usually declines with age). Therefore, keeping the body well hydrated by drinking water regularly is important to nourish the spinal discs and help keep them healthy.

It is generally recommended to drink at least 8 large glasses of water each day as part of a healthy diet. In addition, it is important to drink water continuously through the day rather than drinking only when thirsty.

Drinking enough water to stay well hydrated also helps with maintaining optimal weight or achieving weight loss as necessary.

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Exercise Regularly

Getting enough exercise is critical for many reasons. When it comes to the back, exercise provides the double-benefit of helping problems heal more quickly and helping prevent a recurrence of the pain.

Movement through gentle, controlled exercise stimulates a flow of nutrients within the spinal structures that helps with the healing process. For example, physical activity causes the intervertebral discs to swell with water and then squeeze it out, a process necessary to allow the exchange nutrients between the discs and other spinal structures.

If physical activity and gentle exercise is lacking, the spinal discs are deprived of the nutrients they need to stay healthy and functional.

A focused exercise program - usually guided by a spine health professional - is a critical part of almost any back pain treatment. Most exercise programs include a combination of stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobic exercise. For people who do not have back problems, exercise is also important in order to reduce the risk of developing back problems in the future.

Avoid Smoking

In addition to consuming proper amounts of certain nutrients and vitamins, there are also substances that harm the body and are detrimental to one’s overall health.

In particular, smoking (nicotine) is harmful in many ways. When it comes to back problems, there is now evidence that smoking damages the vascular structures of the discs and joints in the back, causing weakness that leads to low back pain. One study concluded that development of low back pain and lumbar spondylosis was significantly associated with smoking history.

In addition, nicotine undermines the fusion process after spine fusion surgery by inhibiting bone growth. Spine fusion surgery is an extensive procedure, and patients who choose to have this surgery to address their severe, ongoing back pain should quit smoking to give the best chance possible of allowing the bone to heal.

Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol acts as a depressant, which can contribute to feelings of depression and chronic pain. In turn, ongoing pain and depression are interrelated and each can worsen the affects of the other.

Alcohol lacks nutritional value and adds unneeded sugar to the diet, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity.