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Anti-Inflammatory Diet Ideas for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is among the most common back issues that people deal with as they get older. Once the discs around your spinal column start to wear down, they expose more nerves and make your back and neck muscles highly sensitive. You might also experience weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms and legs.

Here are some anti-inflammatory diet ideas that can help you alleviate these symptoms and put your muscles at ease. 

Avoid Refined Carbs

Cutting out refined carbohydrates is the most impactful anti-inflammatory diet change you can make. Refined carbs go through heavy processing and have almost no vitamins, minerals and fiber once they hit the shelves. They might fill you up, but they provide little nutritional value and just take up space in your belly. 

Refined carbs can cause inflammation in several ways. First, they irritate your stomach and make you feel bloated because they’re so difficult to digest. They can also cause sudden inflammation by spiking your blood sugar. Plus, eating refined carbs often leads to weight gain, which makes the inflammation worse over time. 

Here are some refined carbs that people regularly consume:

  • White bread
  • Bagels
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Candy
  • Pastries
  • Pizza
  • Soda

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these treats on occasion, but you should largely avoid refined carbs and processed foods in general. Sticking to whole foods with natural ingredients will fight against DDD and improve your health in many other ways.

Switch to Lean Protein Sources

Another great anti-inflammatory diet idea is switching to lean protein sources. Processed beef is most people’s main source of protein, which can cause a high inflammatory response. The high saturated fat content and artificial additives aren’t doing your back any favors. Rather than eating a greasy steak or hamburger, switch to these low-fat proteins instead:

  • Pastured Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck and other birds are fantastic sources of lean protein.
  • Grass-fed Meats: Try to buy from meat companies that provide grass-fed meat options, such as pork, bison and venison.
  • High-Protein Veggies: Believe it or not, there are many tasty vegetables with high protein that you can substitute for meat. Edamame, lentils, chickpeas, green peas and lima beans are some of the best.

Lean proteins are like power foods. They can help you lose fat and build muscle. They make you feel full without bloating your stomach or raising your blood sugar. They’re also high in Vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium and other nutrients that strengthen your bones. They’re great dietary additions for anyone, but especially for people struggling with DDD.

Get Plenty of Omega 3’s

Instead of eating refined carbs or fatty meats, you should be getting your fats from another source — Omega 3 fatty acids. They are polyunsaturated fats that the body doesn’t naturally produce, but they’re great for slowing the transmission of inflammation-causing enzymes. Here are some foods with high amounts of Omega 3’s:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts

You might have noticed that most of these foods are fish. If you’re not a fan of seafood, you can also take a fish oil supplement to achieve similar results. Omega 3’s aren’t just great for an anti-inflammatory diet — they can also work wonders for your heart and prevent cardiovascular disease, another common chronic issue.

Mix in Some Leafy Greens

The next food group you need to prioritize is dark, leafy vegetables. Spinach, kale and broccoli contain tons of vitamins and antioxidants that directly fight against inflammation. They can improve the health of your bones, muscles, heart and even eyesight. They might not taste amazing, but they should be staples in your diet.

Additionally, these nutritious veggies can help you lose weight fast. Obese people are more prone to DDD than people with low body fat levels. Losing any amount of excess body fat can take a lot of stress off of your aching back and neck — especially if your body distributes more body fat in these areas. 

Drink Soothing Beverages

You should also change your drinking habits along with your eating habits. If eating large meals seems to aggravate your DDD symptoms, then you should stick to smaller meals and drink more soothing beverages. Start by trying a healthy juicing recipe with your favorite fruits and vegetables. The drink will give you plenty of nutrients without making you bloated.

Tea is another fantastic anti-inflammatory drink because it’s full of polyphenols, which boost your immune system and increase the production of inflammation-fighting white blood cells. Adding lemon, honey, fresh herbs and other nutrient–packed ingredients will make the drink even more beneficial for your health. 

Fight Inflammation One Meal at a Time

Making these anti-inflammatory diet changes won’t alleviate your DDD symptoms overnight. You must be patient with your progress and fight the inflammation one meal at a time. These aren’t supposed to cure your disease. Your diet is just one piece of the puzzle. You must also remember to stretch, do hot/cold therapy and take prescribed pain medications when necessary.

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