Many of us, as we get older, start to worry about our bodies wearing out. We especially worry about throwing out our back or slipping a disc. There’s a good reason to worry – back pain is “one of the most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Even school-age children can suffer from spinal health problems.
There are many tips and suggestions for reducing your chances of succumbing to back pain, but your daily diet is one that’s often overlooked. There are some delicious and nutritious foods to improve your spinal health and reduce your chances of back pain. Many of these foods feed the spine and its supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons extra doses of the nutrients they need. Others reduce inflammation, especially in the back, reducing strain and pain. Here are 7 foods to improve your spinal health.
1. Pick Plant-Based Proteins Instead of Animal-Based
When you think about protein, you probably picture a good steak or a juicy piece of chicken or fish. However, there are plenty of plants that are high in protein, and these are actually better for your body. In fact, they’re foods that improve your spinal health, because plant-based proteins reduce inflammation. Animal proteins, often, can lead to more inflammation.
Chia seeds, lentils, and beans are great for your back. They’ll provide the protein your body needs, as well as antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If that carnivore inside you still needs some love and attention, go with lean types of meat like chicken, fish, and pork.
2. Fruits Are Great Foods to Improve Spinal Health
In general, people should eat more fruits. The trick is picking the right ones. You want fruits with strong natural pigments, and you should go easy on those that are higher in sugar. Berries, though, are particularly good for spinal health. They’ll provide your body with the antioxidants and nutrients to help your spine become and stay strong and healthy.
Remember, add berries to your meals, snacks, and desserts, but don’t overdo it. Too many fruits can actually harm your body, because of the excess sugar they provide. They’re tasty and good for you, but only in moderation.
3. Eat More Veggies, but the Right Ones
We all know we should eat more vegetables, but do you pick the right ones to maximize your health? There are actually a few veggies that have properties that help tremendously with fighting off a bad back. Each of these work against inflammation, while also providing you with the nutrients needed to support your spine.
Kale, broccoli, and spinach are among the best for strengthening your spine. As a rule of thumb, though, any vegetables with strong natural pigments will help your body and especially your spinal health.
4. Beef Up Your Salmon Intake
As long as you aren’t opposed to seafood, salmon is one of the best sources you can find of lean protein. Not only that, that luscious pink fish will also provide your body with a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. This nutrient is absolutely crucial for better bone and tissue health.
Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation, too, much like the leafy green vegetables suggested above. Salmon is versatile and delicious and can be prepared a number of yummy ways.
5. Got Milk? And Other Dairy Products, Too
Bone health is dependent on plenty of calcium. Sure, you may take calcium supplements, but that’s not the ideal way to obtain the nutrient. The easiest and most effective way to get more calcium is to increase your dairy intake.
Be choosy about your dairy products, though. You need to make sure you’re picking dairy products that are high in calcium, like yogurt, cheese, and milk. Once again, you need to handle this in moderation – too much dairy can also mean too much fat and cholesterol.
6. Use Herbs and Spices for an Extra Boost of Spinal Nutrients
Believe it or not, there are plenty of seasonings that will help you improve your spinal health. These can fight inflammation, help your body repair damaged tissue, and provide nutrients your body needs.
Turmeric, used in curry dishes and many other Indian specialties, is wonderful for helping your body tissues repair themselves. Cinnamon, rosemary, basil, and ginger are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, so include them, too.
7. Dig into Avocados for a Healthy Spine
Here’s a fruit that deserves mention all on its own. Avocados are wonderful for your spine, because of the healthy fats, fiber, and potassium-packed into that soft, green flesh. The avocado is one of, if not the only, fruit that contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. In other words, the fat that’s actually good for your body, in the right amounts.
If you improve your diet, you’re sure to enjoy a healthier spine. Since your spine is, quite literally, the backbone of your skeletal system, improving its health will improve the rest of your body at the same time. In fact, you’re sure to see better muscle tone and definition by eating these foods.