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Scoliosis Awareness Month: Importance Of Diet, Nutritional Tips And Yoga For People With Scoliosis

Scoliosis Awareness Month is celebrated every year in June with goal to raise awareness about scoliosis and its early detection, educate people about this medical condition, and unite scoliosis patients, their families, medical experts and institutions under one roof so that they can share their stories and help others with the same condition.

The month is also meant to build networks by organising campaigns, events and local activities to help people know more about scoliosis.

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What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spinal deformity in which the spine gets curved (in ‘C' or ‘S' shape) abnormally. It can be due to birth defects, genetic abnormality, hormonal imbalance or neurological conditions. Around 80 per cent of diagnosed scoliosis have no identifiable cause.

The condition occurs mainly during or before puberty (9-15 years) and the prevalence is eight times more in females than males. The change in the spine often occurs slowly, which is why the diagnosis at an early stage is very difficult.

The curving of the spine causes problems in the functionality of body organs like the heart and lungs. Though it is not painful, the shifting or twisting of the vertebrae may cause back pain, muscle spasm, chest pain, breathe shortness and other health conditions. Scoliosis can be treated by surgery or bracing depending upon its severity. The condition is life-long and only its symptoms can be managed.

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Why Diet Is Important?

For the bones to grow and get stronger in the case of scoliosis, a person should have a balanced diet with all the nutrients, especially vitamin D, calcium, manganese, vitamin B6, copper and potassium. [2] These nutrients are needed to promote bone strength, bone mass and overall bone health.

One of the causes of scoliosis is nutrient deficiency along with genetic and environmental factors. A single factor among the above three cannot be held responsible for the condition. The genetic factor cannot be reversed, however, by paying attention and improving the other factors, scoliosis progression can be controlled.

As scoliosis develops at an increased rate during puberty or during the child's important growth age, some researches suggest that disorder of neuro-hormones and neuro-transmitters also plays an important role along with sex hormone (estrogen) and growth hormones. [3]

Therefore, diet is important for scoliosis as its progression can be minimised if a proper diet that can balance the hormones is followed. [4]

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Nutritional Tips For Scoliosis

  • Vitamin B6: It includes foods such as fish, eggs, chicken, organ meats, vegetables rich in starch, non-citrus fruits, brown rice and soya beans (in moderation). [5]
  • Copper: It includes foods such as cereals, dark chocolate (in moderation), seeds, nuts, shellfish, leafy greens and liver of meats.
  • Manganese: It includes legumes, black pepper, whole grains, oysters and coffee (in moderation).
  • Vitamin D: It includes fatty fish (salmon, tuna), egg yolks and fortified cereals. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D.
  • Calcium: It includes food such as tofu, nuts, dried fruits, dairy products and green leafy veggies.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: It includes plant-based oil (flaxseed oil and canola oil), chia seeds, yoghurt, walnuts and fatty fish.
  • Vitamin E: It includes sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, broccoli and vegetable oils.
  • Proteins: It includes fish, meat and dairy products. Protein-rich foods that contain all the eight amino acids are considered beneficial.
  • Beta-carotene: It includes carrots, spinach and apricots.
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: It includes berries (strawberries, blueberries), dark chocolate (in moderation) and fruits (mango, guava, orange).

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What To Avoid

  • Foods which are more in salts.
  • Too much caffeine.
  • Processed foods or foods which may contain a lot of chemicals.
  • Sugary drinks or soda.
  • Too much of citrus fruits or juices.
  • Fast foods and foods that contain an excess of pork meat.
  • Dark chocolate in excess amount.

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Yoga For Scoliosis

Yoga is considered useful for scoliosis to manage its symptoms and pain. It helps increase the mobility and flexibility of the body. Yoga helps people with scoliosis to gain stability and strengthen muscles and connective tissues to keep the spine aligned up to certain levels. It is better to consult a yoga expert first as they may help you with a proper yoga sequence after knowing your scoliosis type and its severity.

Some of the yoga poses for scoliosis include:

  • Locust Pose (Salabhasana): It helps to increase the flexibility of the back of the body, including the legs, rib muscles and upper torse.
  • Side Plank (Vasisthasana): It promotes strength and balance of the arms, shoulder and legs.
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana): It improves the body posture and strengthens knees, thighs and buttocks.
  • Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasna): It helps to strengthen lower back, calves and the entire shoulder and back part of the body.

To Conclude:

Scoliosis is a chronic condition that can interfere with a person's day-to-day life. However, experts say that with proper nutrition, physical activity and care, it's symptoms can be reduced and people can live their life with minimal problems.

On this Scoliosis Awareness Month, let's pledge to raise its awareness about its early detection.

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