Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition that often occurs with aging. It happens when the discs between spine vertebrae begin to deteriorate. This can begin to cause significant pain. The result can also be weakness and numbness flowing down the legs as the discs no longer cushion the vertebral bones above and below, which can cause them to impinge on nerves coming out of the spinal cord.
As the discs begin to dry out with age, they do not absorb shock as well, and this leads to degeneration. Degeneration can happen more quickly if sports or activities lead to a tear on the outer core of the disc.
Nutrition for Degenerative Disc Disease
Many people underestimate the importance of nutrition for combatting Degenerative Disc Disease. Spine health is closely related to one’s nutritional choices. It’s important to make choices that will lead to the best outcomes.
When re-aligning one’s diet to optimize nutrition for spine health and to combat or control Degenerative Disc Disease, consider incorporating these foods on a daily basis:
Grains are key sources of vitamins and minerals, high in fiber and studies show they are linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other issues, including spine health! Try whole oats, whole grain bread, quinoa and more next time you go shopping.
Leafy greens are one of the very best things anyone can eat, offering tons of vitamin K and helping protect the body from inflammation, Osteoporosis and things like Degenerative Disc Disease. Think spinach, kale, cabbage and other similar produce items.
There are so many fruits to choose from — and they are all so delicious! Grapefruit, blueberries, pomegranates, take your pick — they all provide important nutrients for maintaining a healthy body.
There’s fat — and then there’s healthy fat. Get your Omega-3 fatty acids in foods like Salmon, nuts, oils and yogurt. Omega-3’s have been shown to protect the body from things like stroke, helping control rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be helpful for a wide variety of brain and body functions.
Turkey, chicken breast, beans — these are all good sources of lean protein, which help build muscle and regulate blood sugar. This is a great foundation to have in the diet to ward off sugar cravings, which can lead to unhelpful food choices.
Creating a weekly meal plan or schedule to plug in and ensure you are incorporating all of these things each day can be helpful. While it may not help to be extremely strict, try to cut the sugar and make healthy choices. Fill yourself up and don’t leave yourself vulnerable to bad choices. Nutrition in combatting Degenerative Disc Disease can be a vital part of your responsibility to yourself.
Why Nutrition Matters
Dr. Carrie Diulus, an orthopedic surgeon at Crystal Clinic Orthopedic Center, Ohio, recently spoke with us about how undervalued or spoken of nutrition is in this regard:
“One of the things we don’t talk about enough is how nutrition impacts the spine…Obesity, diabetes and nutrition really have a significant impact — not only on spine things happening and problems arising — but also on the impact of treatment.”
She also noted studies that show “optimizing patients nutrition prior to surgery can have a significant effect on their surgical outcomes.”
It’s incredible how nutrition can change the course of one’s life when dealing with a chronic pain issue. Don’t discount how your personal food choices can direct your pathway to healing.