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The information I share in this blog is based on my personal experience, conclusions, observations and studies, or taken from books and educational materials, which are mentioned in the articles. I am not a medical professional, nor a health expert. Before implementing any of the information shared in this blog, consult with your physician or nutritionist!
What Foods Help Herniated Discs (Bulged Disk Nutrition)
Previously I told you my story with the herniated disk (actually, they are two! 😀 ) I have for years. And as I promised I am going to share with you how exactly I managed to keep this issue under control. Now I don’t have pain crises (knock on wood), my leg is not so numb anymore and I allow myself to lift heavy objects when necessary. I don’t mean I am completely recovered, but for the time being, I am satisfied that my neurologist doesn’t push me to undergo a surgery anymore, and I can walk and exercise pain-free. So, if you have some sort of back issues or you suspect that there is a high chance to develop one, take a look at the upcoming articles.
Bulged disk nutrition
Here are some excellent natural foods which can give us important essential nutrients to recover the tissues in the lumbar area:
- Foods rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is a very important mineral for the ultimate health and wellbeing of our nervous system. And that’s what’s the real problem here – as the spinal disk starts to bulge out of its natural place, it may press against and damage the nerve ending. This creates the unpleasant (and often extremely painful) feeling of numbness and sciatica down the legs (or the arms, if the herniated disk is in the neck area). So, one of the first things we need to do is to take care of the nerves and nourish them to speed their recovery. And that’s what Magnesium does! Here are some of the top food sources for Mg – I have taken these directly from my book The Energy Boosting LCHF Diet Plan since this mineral is a powerful electrolyte and it very important for our overall wellbeing!
- Hemp seeds (30 grams contain about 179 mg Magnesium which is about 49% of the recommended daily dosage)
- Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup contains 162 mg – 41% of the daily dosage)
- Cooked spinach (1 cup contains 151 mg – 39% of the recommended daily amount)
- Plaice (85 grams contain 91 mg Magnesium – around 23% of the daily dosage)
- Cashew (30 grams contain 83 mg Magnesium – 20% of the recommended daily amount)
- Almonds (30 grams contain 76 mg Magnesium – 19% of the daily dosage)
- Dark chocolate 79-80% cacao (30 grams supply us with about 64 mg Magnesium – 16% of our daily needs)
- Macadamia nuts (1/4 cup = 44 mg Magnesium – 11% of the recommended daily intake)
- Foods rich in B complex vitamins
Here’s why some of the vitamins from group B are so important for the health and wellbeing of our nervous system:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine pyrophosphate) – this essential nutrient has plenty of benefits but when it comes to herniated disks, one of the most important ones is its ability to protect the myelin sheaths around the nerves. A B1 deficiency could lead fast degeneration of the nerves of the central and peripheral systems. The foods which contain large amounts of this element are cereals, beef, pork, eggs, nuts, cauliflower, oranges, potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, etc.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) – this vitamin is also extremely valuable for the proper work of the whole nervous system, and any deficiencies may slow down or completely stop the bulged disk recovery process. Foods containing B3 are chicken, tuna, beef, smoked salmon, peanuts, lentils, etc.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – not enough of this vitamin can also lead to nerve degeneration and it is an absolute must for everyone who suffers from herniated disks. But keep in mind that if you take too much B6 as a food supplement this could also lead to nerve damage. So, always consult with a doctor beforehand and follow their recommendations. In the meantime, you can safely start consuming more of these foods containing this nutrient – cereals, meat, beer yeast, eggs, fish, walnuts, beans, bananas, carrots, spinach, potatoes, etc.
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate) – vitamin B9 is an integral part of the process of tissue regeneration, including the nerves. So, it is advisable to start adding more of this nutrient to our diet. the important thing to remember here is that there is a big difference between folate (the natural state of B9 found in food) and folic acid (a synthetic compound added in supplements). And as you might have guessed, folate is much better and easier absorbed by our system compared to folic acid. So, here are some foods you can include in your bulged disk nutritional plan – asparagus, avocado, Brussel sprouts, spinach, lettuce, and other leafy greens! (Note: if you need to take additional amounts of folate as a supplement, it is best to choose products with 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, but again, consult with your doctor first!)
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) – just like B1 vitamin B12 takes part in some vital processes and the normal functioning of the nervous system such as building and maintaining the myelin sheaths of the nerve fibers, and the synthesis of some neurotransmitters. This makes cobalamin an essential part of the herniated disk recovery plan! Here are some foods rich in B12 you can consider consuming more of – beef meat, liver and kidneys, mussels, sardines, tuna, trout, salmon, dairy, eggs, etc.
- Omega 3 fatty acids
When people hear about Omega 3 fatty acids, they usually think about cardio-vascular diseases prevention, high cholesterol, PMS, and other hormonal issues. But these essential nutrients can also be a wonderful assistant to the bulged disk recovery process for their powerful anti-inflammatory effects! If you wish to add more of these wonderful agents to your body, you can start by consuming more cold pressed oils (without any thermal treatment), fatty fish and seafood, flax seeds, chia, walnuts, etc.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the absolutely essential nutrients for our overall wellbeing, including the nervous system and the strength of our bones. Naturally, we synthesize this compound through sunlight exposure. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle usually includes working and living indoors under artificial light sources. And thus, many of us suffer from vitamin D deficiency, and this could be especially true for people with herniated disks. So, our first line of defense is to include more food sources of this nutrient like fish and seafood, oranges, cereals, red meat, egg yolks, tofu, etc. One important thing to notice here – vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound and to fully absorb it, you need take sufficient amounts of heathy fats (olive oil, coconut butter, ghee, etc.)
Collagen is the most common type of proteins in our bodies which takes part in the structure of various tissues – teeth, gums, skin, bones, joints, and the connective tissue including the one in the spinal disks. This makes collagen a very important part of our overall wellbeing and mobility! Foods rich in this essential nutrient are bone broth, animal cartilages, fish, eggs, etc. But here’s something extremely important when it comes to collagen. For these foods to be fully absorbed and for our bodies to effectively turn them into connective tissues and elastin, we need one more vital ingredient – vitamin C. So, remember to include lots of fruits and veggies rich in this compound as well – citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy greens, edible seaweed, etc. Also, another micro element which is indispensable for stimulating our bodies to produce collagen is Copper! You can find it in liver, mushrooms, oysters, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashew, gelatin, squids, dark chocolate, etc.
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
Methylsulfonylmethane is a substance which contains Sulphur and it is known to improve the joint repair process and increase the hydration of the tissues. MSM can be found naturally in these foods – coffee, tea, tomatoes, leafy greens, apples, whole grains, raspberries, etc.
- Anti-inflammatory foods
Bulging and herniated disks are quite painful due to the damaged nerve endings and the subsequent inflammation. So, we can always add more of the powerful foods and spices which natural anti-inflammatory agents such as turmeric, ginger, pepper, etc. I have paid special attention to these in a separate article you can check out right here: 13+ Natural Anti Inflammatory Herbs and Homeopathic Remedies
Natural supplements for herniated disks
More often than not, we cannot consume all the foods which contain these precious substances in the amounts needed for effective herniated disk recovery.
So, our next best option is to acquire natural high quality supplements to help us out in this process. But please, remember that you should always consult with your doctor before adding something new or making radical changes to your diet plan! These additives may be natural and generally considered safe, but you should always follow your doctor’s instructions!
A wonderful combination of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods known to man for the ultimate joint support and faster recovery! The turmeric extract is combined with piperine – an extract from the pepper seeds which is absolutely a must for activating the full potential of curcumin!
With our hectic and stressful lifestyles, the Magnesium deficiency has become a very common condition! And even more so for those suffering from herniated disks and nerve damage. So, it is not always possible to take the recommended daily dosage with food, and proper supplementation is required!
As you have learnt, the Vitamin B complex is extremely important not just for the health and strength of our nervous system, but for our whole body and mind – it “provides mental and physical energy, supports blood health, heart health, immune system health and healthy stress response”. And the most important thing is that this product contains folate instead of folic acid – and as described above, this is the most natural and easily-absorbed version of Vitamin B9 which does not cause a hidden B12 deficiency.
Another great addition to the diet of the modern folks who predominantly work and live under artificial lighting and do not synthesize enough of this vital vitamin! The product contains the most active form of the vitamin (D3) and organic olive oil for better absorption (vitamin D is one of the few fat-soluble vitamins alongside A, E, and K).
Adding more Omega 3 fatty acids to our diet plan is a wonderful way to combat chronic inflammation, reproductive hormone imbalances, high cholesterol, and herniated disks. And this is especially valuable for those who do not have consistent access to clean Mercury-free seafood to get the required daily doses of Omega 3!
Ok, not everyone is a fan of eating animal cartilages and other similar foods rich in natural collagen, right? So, the next best thing is adding high quality collagen peptides to our diet to support our joints, skin, teeth, and connective tissues! The product is “sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine to ensure high quality and sustainable source of this powerful ingredient. Digested and absorbed by the body quickly for maximum benefits.” Plus, there is a bonus ingredient inside – “Hyaluronic acid — a clear, lubricating substance found throughout the body — helps support skin hydration and elasticity.”
Gelatin is also a wonderful addition to a diet plan for joint and skin support. No wonder why the jelly dessert is a staple at most hospitals! The substance is easily absorbed and a perfect source of proteins which “patch” and nourish the connective tissues! And the best part is you can use this as a cooking ingredient for your tasty wobbly culinary creations, like this yummy panna cotta recipe, for instance! 🙂
Uridine monophosphate is a substance which does an amazing job for supporting and nourishing the central and peripheral nervous systems! It boosts the growth of the synapses; promotes neural membranes; supports the cholinergic brain function (the cognitive functions); contributes to retaining the logical memory formation; and assists with the pain and inflammation relief in the hips, neck, and back!
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the go-to substances when it comes to any type of joint issues. They help “repair cartilage, boost joint mobility, increase joint flexibility, support joint structure and protect joint tissue”. Unfortunately, these compounds are hard to find in our food since they are extracted from shellfish shells from crabs, lobsters, and shrimps. So, if we want to take advantage of their restorative benefits, we need to take supplements in addition to our healthy diet plan! This one here is a wonderful combination of not just glucosamine and chondroitin, but also turmeric and Boswellia (frankincense) extracts with their powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and methylsulfonylmethane for better and even more effective joint repair restoration, nourishment, and hydration!
Speaking of methylsulfonylmethane, if you need an isolated mono supplement which contains only MSM, this your best option! The important thing to remember when taking this substance is to add more water to your daily hydration since MSM needs more body liquids to be properly absorbed!
Hydration for herniated disk recovery and prevention
At first glance, water consumption has no direct relation to the spinal disks. But this is not true – proper hydration has a lot to do with the structure of these tissues. If we take a look at the building materials of our disks, we will see that they are made of a jelly-like substance. And a big part of that jelly is water. So, if our bodies are chronically dehydrated, the disks may lose their elasticity and their capacity to cushion the vertebrae. It is as if your car lacks its suspension fluids. For me, it is still not very easy to learn to drink enough water. It feels like learning to walk again. But it is absolutely achievable. I started increasing my hydration little by little. Just one glass of water at a time. If you start (from tomorrow or from Monday) drinking 2 more liters of water, the chances are that you are going to spend the whole day in the loo, right? 😀 My suggestion is to start slowly and to use the purest water you can afford – filtered, spring, low mineralized, reverse osmosis, or even distilled (for a short period of time). And another cool hack you can also try to change the taste of your drinking liquid just a bit to make it much more appealing. For example, add some lemon juice, or wheat grass, or make some cucumber-infused water, etc. You get the point! I have described all my best methods for improving one’s hydration in my book Healthy Body Cleanse.
Bonus! Dealing with negative emotions and past traumas
Here’s something which is not directly related to nutrition for herniated disks, but it is vital for our overall wellbeing, in my humble opinion. Chronic stress, anxiety, and past traumas deeply affect our ability to absorb nutrients and may slow down the recovery process!
So, what do emotions have to do with my back?
According to many studies – a lot! There are scientific studies that show the correlation between childhood traumas and unsuccessful spine surgeries. I remember reading one study in which patients were divided into three groups – 1.people with happy childhood; 2.people with some sort of childhood traumas; 3.people with major traumatic experiences in their early ages. These 3 groups of patients all suffered from herniated disks and they we all scheduled for spine surgery (the slipped disks are removed and replaced with artificial ones in order to support the vertebrae). After the operations, the patients were observed and were put to tests at certain time intervals. Only a small portion (I believe it was less than 2%) of group 1 experienced a relapse in the disease. The patients from group 2 had a higher percentage of people with a second slipped disk. And a large portion (I think the number was higher than 80%) of the ones from group 3 did not recover from the surgery and soon after it, they had another herniated disk in another segment of the spine. This study alone says enough about to what extent our emotions affect the body. Louise Hay says that our backbone is our support – literally and figuratively speaking. If we feel unsupported, non-nurtured (especially in early years), out of control, hyper-stressed, our spine develops diseases corresponding to our emotional state.
So, the first thing we need to address is the emotional, mental or even physical traumas and tension. The options here are numerous. Just find the one that really speaks to you. You can analyze your childhood, find the situations and/or people that caused you pain or any other kind of negative emotional charge. You can try the method of family constellations for this purpose – I have paid attention to this powerful practice in my previous article on successful manifesting.
You can also try to release these emotions with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Or start including more relaxing practices in your daily life, such as meditation combined with abdominal breathing, or pranayama (yogic breathing practice).
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Stay tuned for more health and wellness information!
‘Till next time!
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