Nutrition recommendations for a healthy life

Back in elementary school, Americans typically became familiar with a food guide pyramid depicting the five basic food groups, along with recommended servings of each. The idea behind the pyramid was to educate Americans about the importance of good nutrition and a balanced diet. By following the nutrition recommendations below, you can live a healthy life and reduce the likelihood of dealing with degenerative spinal conditions in the future.

Nutrition recommendations

Today, Americans not only consume more calories than they expend but also consume the wrong kind of calories to ensure proper nutrition. Current recommendations include consuming less energy-dense foods high in solid fats and added sugars, including sugary beverages and sweet desserts that are heavy on empty calories. The latest USDA dietary guidelines also no longer stacks the food groups from top to bottom. Instead it lists the food groups side by side, an effort to emphasize the unique nutritional needs of every individual.

Still, the latest guidelines will be familiar to anyone who grew up with the old, stacked version. Americans are encouraged to make healthy choices from the following food groups:

  • Grains — wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain; at least half of all the grains consumed should be whole grains
  • Vegetables — 100 percent vegetable juice or a wide variety of fresh, frozen, canned or dried/dehydrated; vegetables may be raw or cooked
  • Fruits — 100 percent fruit juice or a wide variety of fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits
  • Dairy — low-fat or fat-free milk products; use lactose-free and lower-lactose products if you can’t digest dairy
  • Protein — meat, poultry, seafood, beans, peas and eggs are highly recommended; processed soy products, nuts and seeds also are good sources of protein

An active lifestyle

Proper nutrition goes hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle. In most cases, excess weight is a product of consuming more calories than is expended over time. Obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure and spine conditions like sciatica, spinal stenosis and herniated discs. If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition, you may benefit from conservative treatments like nutritional counseling, weight management, physical therapy or prescription medications if you are experiencing debilitating symptoms. Simple low-impact strength exercises can also improve the health of your back and core muscles.

If your painful symptoms don’t improve over time and you are being recommended surgical treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.