Nutrition & your Spine

Nutrients are the chemical components present in food which provide energy for carrying normal physiological functions and also aid in metabolic processes of the body.

Nutrition refers to the entire cycle of chemical changes occurring within the body depending on what we eat or don’t eat. Nutrition determines the strength of the teeth, bones, and the connective tissues. A healthy diet during childhood paves the way for a healthy adulthood. A well balanced diet is essential for the repair and maintenance of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Vitamin B, C, D, K, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron and manganese are essential for healthy bones and connective tissues.

Nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy spine. Good nutrition helps in managing pain and disability in the patient suffering from different types of spinal disorders. Damage to the spine can occur due to daily wear and tear or due to injuries from work, sports or accidents. Poor nutrition and inadequate hydration can increase the incidence of such injuries.

A major part of the connective tissue involved in joining and holding the joints together is made up of protein and water. Degenerative disc diseases (DJD) can damage the connective tissues as well.

Adequate dietary protein, along with vitamins A, B6, C, E and minerals such as zinc and copper are essential for maintaining strong and healthy connective tissue.

Minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and boron are essential for healthy bones. Healthy nutrition is required for repair and maintenance of bones. Lack of nutrition can lead to bone disease such as osteoporosis.

Calcium helps in improving bone density. Other factors such as vitamin D, collagen, magnesium, and L-lysine are also essential for maintaining healthy bones. Calcium metabolism can be hampered due to various conditions, some of which include:

  • Chronic mental or emotional stress causes inflammation of the digestive tract
  • Inadequate acidity of the digestive tract hampers calcium absorption
  • Deficiency of certain nutrients such as vitamin D and L-lysine
  • Excessive urinary excretion of calcium due to intake of caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee and colas

Inflammation results in the loss of the normal cellular framework that keeps bone and connective tissues together. The inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis can damage the joints. Inflammation also results in pain which arises due to some chemical changes in the surrounding tissues.

Abdominal obesity can induce strain on the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine causing back pain.

A good circulatory system is essential for the repair of surgical incisions, injured bone, or connective tissue such as cartilage and ligaments. The blood vessels carry all the nutrients to the bone and connective tissues. A diet rich in fat and low in protein and fibre can constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the injured areas needing repair. Herbs, fruits and vegetables are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components like flavonoids which can strengthen the healing process.

Various nutritional supplements are also available which may be recommended based on the specific musculoskeletal condition of the patient. Along with good nutrition, regular exercise is also important for a healthy spine.

  • Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital


    Ashford and St Peter’s
    NHS Foundation Trust
    Guildford Road, Cherstey,
    Surrey, KY16 0PZ.
    Ph: 01932 722 730
  • The BMI Runnymede Hospital


    The BMI
    Runnymede Hospital
    Guildford Road,
    Ottershaw, CHERTSEY,
    KT16 0RQ.
    Ph: 01932 877800
  • Spire St Anthony’s Hospital


    Spire St Anthony’s
    801 London Road,
    SM3 9DW.
    Ph: 020 8337 6691
  • Nuffield Health Woking Hospital


    Nuffield Health
    Woking Hospital
    Shores Road,
    GU21 4BY.
    Ph: 01483 331257
  • Ramsay Health Ashtead Hospital


    Ramsay Health
    Ashtead Hospital
    The Warren,
    Ashtead, Surrey.
    KT21 2SB.
    Ph: 01372 221400