Maintaining the health of your spine is one of the most important things you will do in your life. If you take care of your back, it will literally help hold you up for whatever life throws at you. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this. Regular exercise will naturally be of immense benefit to this end. You might even consider consulting a chiropractor for medical advice or a direct adjustment, if necessary. But one other thing that is sometimes overlooked is the immediate effect your diet can have on the health of your spine. Fortunately, this summer you can take nutritious and delicious steps toward a better back and improved overall life.
Early on, we are told that calcium is essential for building strong, healthy bones. So it naturally follows that your spine, made up of vital joints and vertebrae would greatly benefit from this mineral. Calcium helps sustain bone mass, and as we age our bones naturally become thinner and more brittle, so keeping up intake is highly advised.
When it comes to sources of calcium, there are a refreshing variety of foods you can choose from. A common source is dairy products. A cold glass of milk, cheeses you can serve with fruit, and yogurt from your refrigerator are all treats you can easily serve in summer. Another good source is leafy greens. In addition to a host of other nutrients, greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli contain calcium and are very versatile in preparation. Steamed, boiled, sautéed, and even raw in salads are excellent ways to consume these vegetables. On a similar token are legumes and beans. Peanuts, black beans, kidney beans, and other lentils are easy to incorporate into dishes, taste great, and are rich in calcium as well as fiber and other nutrients. One other category some are less aware of is various fishes. Some people don’t like handling fish or have difficulty with the smell. But in addition to being a terrific source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fish also have plenty of calcium they can provide as well.
Magnesium is another mineral closely tied to spinal health. Not only does it contribute to the makeup of the bone matrix, but it is also used to power around 300 known biochemical reactions in the body. These include contraction and relaxation of your muscles, as well as efficiently processing protein and maintaining muscle mass. Your spinal column is an intricate nexus of not just bone and vertebrae but also muscle and nerves. Magnesium is a handy nutrient that supports multiple aspects of spinal health.
Sources of magnesium have some overlap with foods rich in calcium. Beans and legumes, as well as leafy greens also come packed with magnesium. There are a number of additional sources worth considering. Whole grains like brown rice and those found in whole-grain bread and pasta are reliably rich in magnesium. Consider choosing these over similar products made of mostly bleached flours. Seeds like sunflower, flax, and sesame make terrific accents to dishes and in some cases, great snacks by themselves. Another delicious option is fruits you can easily locate during summer. Kiwi and bananas are two examples of fruits particularly rich in magnesium. Tasting great alone, they can be sliced and served with salads, desserts, or blended into refreshing smoothies.
Vitamin D is a supplementary vitamin but of great importance. While calcium does have a direct bearing on the health and condition of your bones, Vitamin D levels can determine how efficiently the body processes that calcium. It is actually a tendency of many people to mind their calcium levels but then come up deficient for Vitamin D. If it’s too low, bones can be at risk of becoming brittle or misshapen.
Vitamin D is found in comparatively fewer food sources than other nutrients, though in recent times companies have been able to fortify products like milk and orange juice with heightened Vitamin D levels. Natural sources include fatty fish like salmon and liver. Another source some people find surprising is that of egg yolks. As many people know, excessive consumption of egg yolk can raise your cholesterol considerably. But if you keep an eye on moderation, eggs and their yolks can be a delicious way to bolster Vitamin D as well as protein.
Another natural way the body obtains Vitamin D is through direct sunlight. People whose schedules mainly revolve around working inside an office building nearly every day can start to become Vitamin D deficient just by the nature of their environment. During summer if you set aside some time to enjoy the sunshine each day, you not only maintain your Vitamin D levels but may find satisfaction moving around in great weather.
Things to Possibly Avoid
While it is entirely reasonable during summer to enjoy and refresh yourself, there are some habits you may want to watch in order to maintain optimal spinal health. One is to be careful with your cola consumption and the caffeine that can often accompany this. Now, there are few things as appropriate during summer than knocking back a cold cola on a hot day. However, these drinks do contain considerable amounts of phosphoric acid, which when consumed in excess, will bind to the calcium and magnesium in your digestive tract and significantly reduce their effects.
Another thing to moderate is the consumption of alcohol. Alcoholic drinks tend to have low nutrition content compared to many alternatives and has been associated with lower bone density later in life if habitually consumed. If these substances are part of how you enjoy summer, that is of course perfectly natural. There is considerable evidence that maintains moderation will pay off for your spinal health in the long run.
With the season comes an opportunity for all sorts of summer cuisine and dishes. If you feel you may have an allergy to any of the foods previously advised, you may want to consult a medical professional who will almost certainly be able to advise you on healthy alternatives. Eating right is basic, longstanding advice no matter where you are or what time of year it is. You can be sure that doing so will lead to a great summer and an improved life.