When the discs in your spine begin to wear down and become damaged from overuse, you can develop degenerative disc disease. The condition is characterized by pain that can vary from a mild discomfort in your lower back to a severe stabbing pain. Usually, the pain begins slowly and intensifies as the degeneration continues. While the disease often strikes young, healthy active adults, diet and nutrition can play a significant role in maintaining a healthy back.
Calcium is vital for bone development. When you are low in calcium, your vertebrae become weak and tend to be more fragile and prone to pain. A lack of sufficient calcium leads to osteoporosis, which then can cause your already weakened vertebrae to be at higher risk of fractures. Cheese, yogurt and milk are the most common sources of dietary calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables, peanuts, tofu, black beans and sesame seeds also can provide you with calcium. To best absorb the important mineral, you also need sufficient vitamin D. Milk is usually fortified with vitamin D, as are certain fortified cereals.
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to help reduce the effects of free radicals that may have entered your bloodstream and damaged your vertebrae. Vitamin C is vital for cell regeneration, an important function when your discs start the degenerating process. Vitamin C is necessary to form collagen that then turns into the new tissue you need to regenerate the disc tissue between your vertebrae. Healing is slowed when you don't get enough vitamin C, according to Spine-Health.com. The most effective sources of vitamin C include spinach, sweet and white potatoes, broccoli and green peppers. Tomatoes are an important source of the vitamin and fruits such as oranges, strawberries and kiwi also are good sources of vitamin C.
To cultivate healthy strong bones, you need to have sufficient vitamin B12 in your diet. B12 is required for bone marrow growth and development. Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include most meat products, fish and poultry. Liver is especially high in vitamin B12. Eggs, cheese, milk and most dairy products contain vitamin B12, as do green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach.
A low calorie diet that aids in weight loss can greatly relieve the pressure put on your spine when your discs become weak. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a diet high in fat that leads to being overweight not only causes you pain when you have degenerative disc disease, it also is a main contributor to developing the condition.