The intervertebral disc is the largest avascular structure in the human body. The reason for this is because it has no direct blood supply like most other body tissue. Nutrients (food) for the disc are found within tiny capillary beds (black arrows) [open the link for the diagram..] that are in the subchondral bone, just above the vertebral end-plates . This subchondral vascular network 'feeds' the disc cells of the all important nucleus and inner annulus through the diffusion process. The Figure on the left shows the 'disc feeding setup' for disc. Note that the outer annulus has its oven blood supply that is embedded within the very outer annulus. This is a much more efficient system and nutrients don't have to diffuse very far to find their hungry disc cells. The 'more direct' blood supply of the outer annulus is why tears of the outer 1/3 of the annulus will heal/scar shut with the passage of time, which unfortunately is not true of the rest of the disc. Research has indicated that disc tears will not heal in the inner zones of the disc - probably because of the avascular nature of the inner two thirds of the disc. Note the nutrients (pink balls) diffuse directly into the tissue of the outer annulus, where as the nucleus and inner annulus has a much longer diffusion route that is block by the vertebral end-plates. Note how the nutrients (pink balls) are released from the blood vessels (red) in the subchondral bone just under the vertebral end-plates. These nutrients must 'diffuse' or soak their way through the vertebral end-plates and into the disc. This 'diffusion method' is how the cells of the disc get the nutrients oxygen, glucose, and amino acids which are required for normal disc function and repair. This poor blood/nutrient supply to the disc is one of the main reasons that the disc ages and degenerates so early in life.
The 'diffusion feeding process' is enhanced somewhat by a phenomena called 'Diurnal Change'. Our discs have the ability to expand and compress over the course of a day. As we start the day our discs, like squeezing out a sponge, will compress and dehydrate because of the gravity and physical activity which place axial loads upon the discs. In fact a healthy disc will shrink down some 20% (104), which in turn decreases our height by 15 to 25mm (194,441,815). As we sleep and decompress our spines, our discs swell with water plus nutrients and expand back to their fully hydrated state. This tide-like movement of fluids in and out of the disc will help with the movement of nutrients into the avascular center of the disc. (Click here to learn more on Diurnal Change).
http://www.chirogeek.com/001_Degenerati ... isease.htm
Degenerative Disc Disease
Unlike other tissues of the body, the intervertebral disc under goes an early and often severe form of aging and degeneration (6 ,8,14,151,152 ). In most humans, this aging/degeneration process is slow and steady, but in some the process rapidly accelerates and may lead to catastrophic failure of the disc; which in turn may lead to chronic pain and disability. This 'accelerated' form of aging/degeneration may be called Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), although the term is commonly and erroneously used to describe any form of disc degeneration.
Research has strongly linked DDD to back pain, and sciatica (201,206,219,227), although not in every case, for it is well known that DDD, disc protrusion, and stenosis do occur in completely asymptomatic people (100-106), but for about 10% of the population, DDD will result in permanent chronic pain and disability (250-253). Technically it's not the actual process of DDD that results in pain; it's the evil 'end-phases' of the disease that have the potential to generate back pain. These end-phases include anular tears (aka: Internal Disc Disruption or IDD) (203,209,216,231); disc protrusions (227); nerve in-growth (900,904,905,906); and the ultimate end-phase, stenosis.
The diagnosis of DDD is best made on T2-weighted MRI imaging (27), although some of the late appearances of DDD (disc collapse, osteophytosis, and sclerosis) may also be seen on CT scan and X-ray. The MRI appearance of DDD is easy to spot, even for the layperson, and is characterized by a loss of 'signal intensity' (loss of whiteness) of discal tissue, which makes the disc appear black instead of bright white. Technically, this 'Blackening' of the disc occurs because the disc has greatly lost its water content and become dehydrated. This 'blackening' is called disc 'Desiccation'. Since the MRI signal intensity (whiteness) is directly related the disc's water content (215,226), any loss of discal water will proportionally decrease the 'whiteness' of that disc on T2-weighted MRI. So, in layman's terms, the dryer the disc, the blacker and more degenerated it will look on MRI"
Proper hydration plays a role in the relationship between degenerative disc disease and nutrition. Once of the causes of disc degeneration is the drying-out of the discs that cushion your neck and spine. Discs are made primarily of water and can lose height when they become too dry. Discs that have lost some of their height can press on your nerves, causing tingling, numbness and pain. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day hydrates your body and replenishes the parched discs with the water they need to stay healthy. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as well as coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine, because these substances can contribute to dehydration.
Healthy discs require oxygen. One of the nutritional goals to meet to help prevent or ease the discomfort of degenerative disc disease can be to increase the oxygenation in your bloodstream. Eating iron-rich foods increases the number of red blood cells your body makes; these are the cells that carry oxygen throughout your body, the MedlinePlus online medical encyclopedia explains. Beef, dark-meat poultry, beans, raisins and other dried fruits, several types of fish and seafood and spinach are all examples of foods that are high in iron.
Your spine contains several bones, or vertebrae, connected by spinal discs made of cartilage. Both the vertebrae and spinal discs surround and protect the spinal cord, a part of the nervous system that allows communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Spinal disc injuries can lead to pain and discomfort, and might potentially lead to permanent spinal cord nerve damage if left untreated. While nutrition alone might not prove sufficient to heal an injured spinal disc, nutrients in the foods you eat might contribute to spinal disc healing.
One nutrient important for healing spinal discs is vitamin C. The tissues that make up your spinal discs -- cartilage and other connective tissues -- all contain the protein collagen. As a result, your body must make new collagen as part of the process of healing your spinal disc tissue. To synthesize collagen, your cells require vitamin C, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Many fruits provide a source of this nutrient, so consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits might help promote spinal disc healing.
Vitamin A -- an essential vitamin -- might also help promote spinal disc healing. After a spinal disc injury, your body must generate new cartilage cells -- called chondrocytes -- for healthy cartilage tissue. Vitamin A helps promote proper cartilage cell development by promoting the development of mature chondrocytes, according to the New York University Langone Medical Center. Consume pumpkin, spinach, kelp and potatoes to increase your vitamin A intake and help promote spinal disc healing.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another nutrient that might help ease the discomfort of spinal disc injuries is omega-3 fatty acids. Often, disc injuries such as herniated discs lead to discomfort due to increased inflammation around the injury site. The displaced spinal disc tissues irritate the surrounding tissue, leading to the release of inflammatory factors, as well as swelling and pain. Omega-3 fatty acids help control the levels of inflammation in the body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and might therefore help ease some discomfort associated with a herniated disc. If you suffer from spinal inflammation, consult your doctor about the potential benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or include fish and flaxseed in your diet.
Eating healthy and consuming a range of nutrients can have a beneficial effect on spinal healing. Compounds naturally found in healthy foods can help your body in recovering from a spinal disc injury, but a healthy diet alone might not prove effective in treating a spinal injury. Any health condition affecting your spinal discs requires the attention of a medical professional, who might suggest a number of treatments, including prescription medication. If you're interested in nutritional supplements to help heal an injured spinal disc, consult your doctor regarding the safety of the supplements, and their potential benefit in helping to heal your injury.
academic research those other two sites failed to include (because apparently they don't care what the disc is actually MADE of):
Effect of Zinc Deficiency on Bone Collagenase and Collagen Turnover
"Half-turnover time for tibia collagen was 13 days in the control and 35 days in the zinc-deficient chicks."
not suggesting you're a chick but still. zinc-dependent enzymes are zinc-dependent enzymes, and collagenase is one of them:
Zinc Deficiency and Clinical Practice
- for the zinc-collagenase connection, see table 1, pdf page 2 (p. 360 of the original hard copy)
zinc has a structural role as well as an enzymatic role when it comes to healthy collagen formation. if you've heard anything on cbc radio lately, about 'protein folding' issues as a common denominator to a variety of chronic diseases, they failed to describe published research to the effect that proper protein folding is also zinc-dependent:
Zinc-dependent protein folding
ah, here's the kicker (of specific interest, "The Zn level and Zn/Mg ratio showed a decline in patients with IDH"):
Correlation of serum trace elements and melatonin levels to radiological, biochemical, and histological assessment of degeneration in patients with intervertebral disc herniation.
"The aim of our study was to assess the blood concentrations of some trace elements and melatonin (MLT) in patients with intervertebral disc herniation (IDH) and to investigate the interaction of histological and biochemical degeneration findings with aging. The present study was carried out on 13 subjects (8 women and 5 men) diagnosed with IDH. They were divided into three groups according to their ages. Nighttime serum MLT, zinc (Zn), and magnesium (Mg) levels were determined in all patients. In addition, computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain and magnetic resonance imaging examination of the lumbar spine were obtained in this study. *The Zn level and Zn/Mg ratio showed a decline in patients with IDH* with aging, whereas the serum Mg level and tissue hydroxyproline content increased. A positive correlation between serum Zn and MLT concentrations was found (r=0.104, p=0.734). In addition, there was a positive correlation between serum Zn level and Zn/Mg ratio (r=0.835 and p<0.01), and a negative correlation between serum Mg level and Zn/Mg ratio (r=-0.571, p<0.05). On CT study, both volume percentage of calcified pineal gland and density of calcification were found to increase progressively with advancing age. The results of semiquantitative evaluation of disc tissues of patients with IDH for histological degeneration findings showed that 66.7% of discs treated had slight degeneration in younger age group, but 75.0% and 100% of discs had moderate or marked degeneration in older age groups. Our data indicated that there is a close relationship between MLT and Zn or Mg levels in the serum samples of patients with IDH, and the levels of these elements might be affected by the presence of degeneration process and serum MLT level, or vice versa."
anecdotal support for the above: have i had a bulging disc? yes. was i zinc deficient at the time? also yes.
interesting aside: zinc for preventing cavities?
Zinc reduces collagen degradation in demineralized human dentin explants
Rules of thumb, two glasses of water makes up for one coffee, and if you're thirsty you're already dehydrated.
The good news is, how water improves energy - I get so dehydrated at work, I'll come in so tired out, chug some water, and pretty soon feel like I had a nap.
Get a good b-complex in you and that will help with energy levels too.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users