Before beginning our real food and natural journey, I never understand the complex connection between what we eat and how we feel internally and externally. In my naivety, I figured that as long as I stayed in decent shape, it didn’t matter what I ate or what I put on my body. But over the years, I experienced firsthand the effects that nutrition has on our overall health. We’ve explored the connection between diet and ADHD, Cron’s disease, and other autoimmune diseases. Now, we will explore the question: does bad diet cause scoliosis?
“In my last post, I talked about nutrition and scoliosis. Even though there is a huge amount of evidence showing that deficiencies in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and fat-soluble vitamins is linked to scoliosis, many doctors are still reluctant to admit that scoliosis is caused by a bad diet. I’m not saying that a bad diet alone causes scoliosis. There is definitely a genetic component to scoliosis as well. But a bad diet is one of the factors which can trigger scoliosis.
This topic is very personal to me since my daughter (who is now 16) had to undergo major surgery for her scoliosis when she was 14. During my pregnancy with her and during her formative years, our diet was less than ideal. I can’t say with 100% positivity that bad diet caused her scoliosis, but it certainly didn’t help matters.
Here we will look at the many ways a bad diet may cause scoliosis, including sugar, inflammation, gluten, and poor diet during pregnancy.
Sugar and Scoliosis
The typical westerner eats waaayyyyy too much sugar. But wait, you say – I don’t eat sugar! Well, there is sugar hidden in pretty much all packaged and processed foods, and these are the things which make up the bulk of the Standard American Diet (appropriately called SAD).
According to the World Health Organization, sugar should account for no more than 5% of one’s calories, or about 6-12 tsp of sugar per day. This is an amount exceeded by drinking a single can of cola! How much sugar are Americans consuming now? Americans typically consume 18 tsp per day, or approximately 18% of their daily calories! (Source)
There is already tons of evidence which links sugar to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, tooth decay, and a multitude of other health problems. But what does sugar have to do with scoliosis?
Sugar depletes minerals from your body, including from the bones.
For every molecule of sugar that you consume, your body will use 54 molecules of magnesium to process it. If you recall from our nutrition and scoliosis post, magnesium is very important for bone health. When you consume sugar, it also causes spikes in your insulin levels, which in turn depletes zinc. Zinc is important for bone formation by stimulating osteoblasts. Sugar also wastes our phosphorus stores, which is important for balancing calcium. Without enough phosphorus, the body won’t be able to utilize dietary calcium and will steal it from the bones instead. (Source 1, 2, 3) As if this weren’t bad enough, sugar causes inflammation, which can also contribute to scoliosis.
All that said, getting your pre-teen and teen not to dive head first into a bowl full of sugar is tough. I feel you. They have some independence with their time and perhaps some pocket money and they hyperpalatable foods available at every corner that appropriately have “bet you can’t eat just one” as their tagline are tough to resist. My best advice on this front is to have the best foods available at home. Don’t bring junk into the house which is where they’re eating at least half of the time.
Diet, Inflammation and Scoliosis
When the body is harmed, such as from physical injury or a bacterial invader, an inflammation response occurs. The damaged cells release chemicals such as histamine, prostaglandins, or bradykinin. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, which results in swelling. Swelling helps protect the cells from the harmful substance. (Source) The blood vessels around the area dilate, which allows more blood to flow to the area. Gaps appear in the cell walls around the damaged area, which allows immune cells to pass through.”