The health of one's spine reflects the overall health of the body, and a healthy diet plays a role in moderating the low back pain of degenerative disc disease. Specifically, intervertebral discs benefit from:

  • Hydration
  • Oxygenation

Patients can achieve both hydration and oxygenation with small changes, such as

  • Hydration can be improved by sipping water throughout the day, especially during and after exercise, as well as eliminating or reducing use of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, some teas, and soda.
  • Alcohol use should be minimized. Alcohol not only decreases hydration, it is a depressant. Using alcohol to self-medicate and numb pain can start a cycle of unhealthy actions, interfering with everything from sleep quality, the ability to make healthy food choices, and the motivation to exercise.
  • Smoking – or any nicotine intake - should be eliminated, because it interferes with nutrition for the spinal discs by preventing the good oxygen flow needed to keep them healthy.

    See Does Smoking Cause Low Back Pain?


Although the term degenerative disc disease sounds fearsome, for most people the low back pain and other symptoms from lumbar degenerative disc disease can be managed quite effectively with self-care.

By making a concerted effort at managing the pain, most patients will find that they can keep the pain to a tolerable level and continue to enjoy their favorite activities without having to undergo major surgery.

See Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Dr. J. Talbot Sellers is a physiatrist specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of spine pain at NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin. He has decades of experience using physical therapy, rehabilitation, and injections to treat painful musculoskeletal conditions.