These 4 Tasty Foods Can Help You Prevent Back Pain
Yes, you read that title right.
If youre surprised that foods can help prevent back pain, youre not alone. Many people find this concept intriguing, to say the least.
But, the more we uncover about the human body and the food we eat, the more this makes sense. The science is there to back it up.
We know that eating the wrong foods can make us gain weight, increase our risk of heart disease and cancer, and have an adverse effect on our mood.
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So, is it really all that surprising that eating the wrong foods can increase instances of pain in our bodies? Or that eating the right foods can help reduce and even eliminate that pain?
Whether you find this concept far fetched or completely reasonable, read on to find out more. Youll learn the science behind reducing back pain with dietary changes, what to eat to help reduce pain, and a few other things you can do to live without back pain.
Inflammation And Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for debilitating pain among people the world over. An estimated 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the cause of back pain is hard to pinpoint.
Theres a lot going on around the spine. The back is a complex configuration of bones, disks, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. People of all ages experience different kinds of back pain.
The good news is that most back pain doesnt stick around for long. But it sure is tough to contend with while its around.
Mechanical And Inflammatory Back Pain
As people get older, the disks and joints in the back start to degrade. While we call arthritis a disease, it’s really a natural part of aging, and it can affect the back. The most common type of arthritis affecting the back is osteoarthritis.
But, no matter the type, pain from arthritis is typically the result of the immune system attacking the arthritic joints, which causes inflammation. Since there is no foreign bacteria or object for the immune system to eradicate, the inflammation keeps on happening, making it chronic.
Mechanical back pain, on the other hand, is often caused by an injury or trauma to the back. This can happen at the gym, when lifting something heavy, in a car accident, or even as a result of bad posture and strain on the back muscles.
You may be wondering what food has to do with mechanical and inflammatory back pain. The fact is, and the science shows, that eating healthy can help prevent and reduce both kinds of back pain.
Food And Inflammatory Back Pain
According to a 2002 study, the average American diet is heavy on refined grain products, desserts, and meat. As a result, Americans dont get enough fruits and vegetableswhich means a lack of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and an imbalance of essential fatty acids.
The study refers to this as a pro-inflammatory diet, which can not only increase inflammation in the body but can also promote degenerative diseases.
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To pull directly from the study: Nearly all degenerative diseases have the same underlying biochemical etiology, that is, a diet-induced proinflammatory state.
You can see how important the researchers thought that diet was in their findings. But thats only for inflammation and degenerative diseases. What about mechanical back pain?
Food And Mechanical Back Pain
The biggest role that food plays in back pain is its direct link to weight gain. Overweight people are more likely to develop back pain than those who arent. When you carry excess weight, it can shift your center of gravity and put more strain on your back.
Plus, a lack of essential vitamins and minerals for bone health can cause back pain. For example, if your diet lacks vitamin D and calcium, it can cause back problems.
People who eat healthy also tend to stay fit with exercise. After all, its hard to gather the energy to exercise and stay active (both ways to avoid mechanical back pain) if you dont eat the right foods.
The Right And Wrong Foods For Reducing And Preventing Back Pain
If you already suffer from back pain or youre simply looking to prevent it from occurring, this list of foods can help you determine what to eat and what to avoid.
Healthy, Anti-inflammatory Foods
- Tuna and Salmon
- These two fish are rich in protein, nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids that can help you prevent and reduce inflammation. Salmon is also one of the rare foods high in vitamin D.
- Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
- Both these orange foods are packed with nutrients and are easy staples of any anti-inflammatory diet.
- Almonds and Cashews
- These (and other) nuts are a great source of clean, healthy energy for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle. They contain healthy fats that can help your body stay in balance and reduce chances of inflammation.
- Cherries and Berries
- A healthy diet is one that includes a good amount of fruits. Theyre a great source of antioxidants and vitamins. Fruit as part of a balanced diet can help keep the pounds off and fight inflammation.
Foods to Avoid
- Fried Foods
- Youll want to avoid pretty much anything fried for a non-inflammatory diet. Donuts, corn dogs, potato chips, fries, fried chicken, and jalapeno poppers are all examples of fried foods to avoid.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sugar
- Unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup is hidden in a lot of processed foods. In recent years companies have been pretty good about swapping it out for more expensive sugar, but even that isnt great for inflammation. If you eat enough fruit, youre probably getting enough fructose.
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- Shortening, Margarine, and Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
- All of these foods (and fried foods) contain artificial trans fats, which are linked to inflammation, obesity, and high cholesterol. Avoid using artificial butter and anything that has partially hydrogenated vegetable oil listed as an ingredient.
- Refined Carbs
- Refined carbs, unlike carbs found in whole foods, have much of the fiber removed. Fiber is incredibly important for several reasons, one of which is that it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Refined carbs are found in bread, candy, pasta, cookies, soda, and most items with added sugars. Theyre one of the top drivers of inflammation in the modern diet.
Other Ways To Prevent And Reduce Back Pain
Eating healthy can do much to help your entire body, but sometimes its not the only answer. Most back pain from injuries doesnt last long and changing your diet suddenly isnt going to make your injury heal overnight. It will help, but a healthy diet is more of a long-term solution and a way to increase your quality of life.
While you should always see a doctor before trying anything that might make your pain worse, weve included a few other ways you can relieve and prevent back pain.
Sometimes back pain can be caused by ruptured disks and pinched nerves in the spine. If you think that you may have spinal problems like this, spinal decompression helps with back pain. Chiropractors perform non-surgical spinal decompression to take the tension off the pinched nerves in the spine by gently stretching it.
Visiting a chiropractor can be good for any type of back pain. Theyll view your complete medical history and determine what the problem is and how best to relieve the pain.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Ibuprofen and Advil can help relieve pain by reducing inflammation. These drugs are used for temporary pain relief and should not be relied upon as a cure.
But, since most back pain is transient, these drugs can give you the relief you need to get on with your day.
Hot And Cold Treatment
Another good way to speed the healing process is to alternate hot and cold temperatures on the pained area. Hot treatments help pull blood and immune system cells to the area for healing, while cold treatments reduce swelling and give you a break from the pain.BRAND-NEW: This Golden Herb Supplement Reduces Chronic Pain & Inflammation
Apart from eating healthy, exercise is perhaps the best prevention method for back pain. The body is meant for movement, so this is especially important if you sit at a desk for several hours a day.
Dont overdo it, but exercise regularly and keep your back strong so you can fend off future back pain.
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Hey, its Caroline! Thanks, Dr. Wells! Just by eating more of those 4 foods you should ease your back pain a lot
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About the Author:
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of Alaskan patients with physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.