Why Eating Turkey is Good for Your Back

By Savanna Stone
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Thanksgiving is probably one of the holidays that is the worst for your health, along with Easter, Christmas, and Halloween (pretty much every holiday). On Thanksgiving, we overeat the big dinner, the sweets and desserts, and the leftovers days after. What’s worse is, we fast to make the meal, then we eat everything in our sight until we’ve eaten so much we have to unbutton our pants and take a sitting-up nap so we don’t vomit our dinner. But if we didn’t eat so much, is the cornerstone of a Thanksgiving meal (turkey) good for your health? The answer is yes. And I’ll even do you one better: turkey is good for your back pain too. Here’s why:


Why turkey is good for your back:

Turkey helps you sleep.

Turkey is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is part of the brain compound serotonin. Serotonin in your brain improves your overall quality of sleep. Apart from overindulging, it’s one of the reasons you are so tired after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Eating turkey before nap time might just be the thing that puts you in a deeper sleep, which is good for your muscles. When your muscles have a chance to relax, the tension in your back is relieved. Sleeping this way can help your back heal faster from any sort of pain.

Turkey helps the body heal and promotes strong muscles.

Potassium and zinc are necessary for your body, and turkey is full of them. Potassium helps your body regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, the heartbeat, and reflexes. Getting enough potassium is essential for helping your back because when you don’t get enough potassium, it can cause muscle weakness and can lead to other back issues. Zinc is also very important to your back because it promotes healing. 

Turkey contains iron, which helps prevent degenerative disc disease.

Iron is one of the most important minerals to help fight against degenerative disc disease. Iron helps your body produce myoglobin for muscle health necessary to support the spine. Iron also helps cells receive oxygen and push out carbon dioxide, providing the cells the breath of fresh air they need. Iron is good for the health of your spine and especially the discs in your spine.

Turkey helps reduce inflammation.

Turkey is high in protein but can reduce inflammation. When people think of protein, they often think of red meat, but red meat can cause inflammation and is high in saturated fats. If you don’t eat the turkey skin, turkey reduces inflammation and is low in saturated fats.

Turkey helps open arteries.

Turkey is an excellent source of arginine, an amino acid that helps the body make a protein. Arginine also helps make nitric oxide, something that relaxes and opens arteries, increasing blood flow to the areas of the body that need it the most. This would include your hurt back that needs extra blood flow to heal.


Turkey’s other health benefits:

  • Lean turkey breasts fulfill more than half of most people's daily protein needs. 
  • Niacin in turkey may help increase your HDL cholesterol, the good kind, while also helping to reduce your LDL cholesterol, the bad kind.
  • Turkey is an amazing source of B12, which helps prevent the buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid that may decrease cognitive function.
  • Some studies claim that turkey can help play a role in preventing cancer and can help improve your mood.

So don’t feel too guilty about your meal this Thanksgiving. Just try not to eat too much food because the food you are eating is good for you . . . at least the turkey is.


Sources:

  1. https://www.sharecare.com/health/health-value-of-foods/health-benefits-of-eating-turkey
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285736.php
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do#section4
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
  5. https://northamericanspine.com/blog/eat-your-way-away-from-degenerative-disc-disease/
  6. https://info.illinoisbackpain.com/blog/what-foods-are-good-and-bad-for-your-back-pain-and-sciatica
  7. http://www.thespinehealthinstitute.com/news-room/health-blog/4-ways-thanksgiving-is-tough-on-your-spine%E2%80%A6-and-what-you-can-do-to-stay
  8. https://www.thespinepro.com/an-anti-inflammatory-diet-for-a-healthy-spine/
  9. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/turkey-a-healthy-base-of-holiday-meals-201211195550