Unfortunately, there is no cure for degenerative disc disease (DDD). Whether caused as part of the normal aging process or because of injuries to your back, it is a progressive condition and once you have been diagnosed, managing the symptoms is usually a lifelong journey. Luckily, in addition to treatments that can be offered by qualified health practitioners, there are also some lifestyle changes you can make – like maintaining a healthier diet – that can be effective in helping to partially relieve Degenerative Disc Disease symptoms. The key to eating to relieve some of your degenerative disc disease symptoms is to look for foods that help you maintain a healthy weight, are anti-inflammatory, are nutrient-dense and that help you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Dietary Changes to Manage Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
One of the most effective ways you can manage your degenerative disc disease symptoms is to make an effort to maintain a healthy body weight. Your spine supports your entire body and if you are overweight, the amount of stress on your spine (and vertebral discs) will be significantly more than for people who have lower body weights.
Degenerative disc disease symptoms include inflammation – that’s the cause of your pain! Looking to incorporate more foods with anti-inflammatory properties is a good step toward proactively managing the pain associated with DDD. Fortunately, many foods that are considered anti-inflammatory are also good for the other items on your Degenerative disc disease checklist like maintaining a healthy weight and heart health.
High levels of unhealthy cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis in the vertebral arteries. This, in turn, can lead to degenerative disc disease and can hamper efforts for degenerative disc disease treatment. For someone who is serious about managing their degenerative disc disease symptoms, managing cholesterol must be near the top of the list of things to consider when making dietary choices.
Foods to Relieve Degenerative Disc Symptoms
Artichokes are perhaps the most underrated vegetable. They pack more fiber per serving than any other vegetable and are incredibly easy to prepare … and did we mention that they are delicious?
Fiber is important to maintaining a healthy weight and to help curb the potential for atherosclerosis, which as we mentioned earlier, is a condition linked to degenerative disc disease. Research indicates that the vast majority of Americans fall short of their recommended daily intake of fiber. Dietary Fiber is found in plant-based foods and is the part of the food that your body cannot digest or absorb (unlike fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc.).
Artichokes are also full of phytonutrients that provide strong antioxidant benefits, lower levels of inflammation and, according to a German study published in 2001, are especially effective at reducing cholesterol.
You probably know that you should drink lots of water, especially living in the deserts of Arizona. Hydration is also crucial to the proper function of your discs – in fact, normal vertebral discs are comprised of 88 percent water. But if you become dehydrated, your body will look to take water from places like your vertebral discs first. Sipping water throughout the day is also a good strategy to help maintain a healthy weight to minimize degenerative disc disease symptoms. Aim for at least 8 cups of water per day, and even more if you are spending a lot of time in the heat or engaging in physically demanding activities. If you find that you have difficulty drinking that much water throughout the day, consider buying a stainless steel water bottle that you can carry with you throughout the day, setting reminders on your cell phone, making yourself drink a full glass before and after every meal or even just try drinking the water through a straw – studies have shown that people will drink more water with a straw without even realizing it.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, kale and spinach are very effective at reducing inflammation in the body. They contain astounding amounts of nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Furthermore, these vegetables are very low in calories, meaning that you can get a ton of nutrition without sacrificing your waistline … a win-win in terms of managing degenerative disc disease symptoms. If you are not a fan of salads, consider other ways of incorporating greens like adding them to smoothies or pressed juices, preparing raw lettuce wraps or adding them as an ingredient in your favorite soup.
While we hope this article is helpful and that anyone struggling with degenerative disc disease symptoms will seriously consider the advice outlined here, it is important to stress again that there is no cure for DDD and that dietary and lifestyle changes should be seen as just an element of a degenerative disc disease treatment plan. Most DDD sufferers will find that these diet tips work best when they are supplementing other treatments under the direction of a licensed physician. For an appointment to see how we can help you comprehensively manage your degenerative disc disease symptom, call us today. We look forward to meeting you!