Q: What are some things I can do to take responsibility for my spine health?
A: Even if you have a back problem that may require some type of intervention, there’s so much that you can do before, during and after treatment that can have a considerable impact on your spine health.
Limit alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink per day
Wine, particularly red wine, has some anti-inflammatory properties, which could be good for your back.
Unfortunately, many people with chronic pain use alcohol to cope with the pain. This increases your risk for heavier use and abuse of alcohol. Alcohol has also been found in preliminary studies to decrease blood flow to the spinal cord, reducing your body’s ability to heal.
Eat a healthy diet
Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and red meat cause chronic inflammation. Many patients may have spinal stenosis on imaging, but it’s really inflammation that is causing their back symptoms.
A healthy diet that includes lots of organic fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats, such as olive oil, can help reduce inflammation and pain in your body. A Mediterranean diet is an example. When you improve your diet, you may notice enough significant functional improvement to eliminate the need for any of our interventions.
Maintain a healthy body weight
Your weight plays a significant role in your spine’s health. For every pound of extra weight in your abdomen, your lower back takes on about seven to 10 pounds. So, if you’re someone who needs to lose even five pounds, your spine will be 35 to 50 pounds happier if you lose the weight.
This question was answered during the episode of Spine Time called “Wine and Spine.” A recording of this webinar, held on May 5, 2021, is available on YouTube.
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