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What I eat can affect my spine? Really?

What we eat can have a negative effect on the spine in two ways:

  1. if we’re not eating the essential nutrients to build healthy bones and cartilage, we will never have healthy bones and cartilage
  2. if we are eating foods that cause systemic inflammation all day every day, it creates an environment that will break down the bone matrix

Your bones, joints, nerves, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, etc. all need specific and essential nutrients. Most of us know that our bones need calcium, but that’s just one of thousands of minerals and nutrients that your body needs to be healthy.

We get most of our nutrients from our food, but due to unhealthy farming practices, it is almost impossible to get everything we need from food. According to a report released by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2002, Americans would need to consume 17-22 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to get the basic nutrients that we need. Most Americans aren’t getting the USDA-recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, much less 17!

If we’re not getting what we need from food sources, we have to add supplements into our diet to make up for the deficiency. Otherwise, your body is never going to be able to build healthy bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, etc. We talk with our patients about the best supplements for their specific needs.

Not only are we not getting what we need from our food, we also tend to eat too much of the things that inhibit health.

When we eat foods that our systems don’t want, we start a process of inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s first response to a problem.

Chronic inflammation means that your body is fighting problems all day every day. Chronic inflammation has been shown to pull calcium out of bones, leading to arthritis in the spine and other joints. Chronic inflammation can also cause other health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, auto-immune conditions, and others.

So, what kinds of foods are we eating that are causing chronic inflammation?

Every body is different, but here are the most common substances that are causing problems for us: high fructose corn syrup (sometimes it hides behind other names on labels… we will discuss that on a different post), corn oil, soybean oil, eggs, dairy, and wheat.

We can quickly spiral down a path of very strict elimination diets - and sometimes those are necessary to heal from overdosing on toxic foods for too long - but for the average person, just pay attention to how you feel after you eat something. If you feel gross after you eat something with a lot of dairy, then maybe cut down on the number of meals that include dairy to 2-3 meals per week. If you can’t sleep after you eat bread, then don’t eat bread for a while and see how you feel.

This topic has a lot of research and opinions, and we can dive into some of those, but a good first step is to start paying attention to what you eat.

To wrap up: food affects us in both positive and negative ways. Eating the right things gives us the building blocks to make healthy tissues, and eating challenging foods can inhibit your body’s function. Let’s pay attention to what we need and what we don’t need.

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