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What You’re Eating Can Help (or Hurt) Your Back

What You’re Eating Can Help (or Hurt) Your Back

By Spine Team Texas on Wednesday, January 09, 2019

You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, this could not be truer for pain management.

If you’ve noticed an unexpected decrease (or an unfortunate increase) in your back pain without introducing any new physical activities, you may need to take a closer look at what you’re putting on your plate or in your glass.

Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet will do wonders on your back pain, as well as help you maintain proper nutrition and a healthy weight.

What foods are included in this diet? Read on to learn more. As with any lifestyle change, please consult your doctor or dietician before starting a new diet regimen.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods That Can Help Reduce Back Pain

In general, an anti-inflammatory diet is plant-based and includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, foods rich in omega-3s, calcium, and lean proteins, healthy fats, and herbal teas.

A good rule of thumb to follow for produce is to “eat the rainbow,” which means to opt for the deeper- or brighter-colored fruits and veggies.

Below is a more detailed food list:

Bright-colored fruits and vegetables:

  • Red grapes
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon

Calcium- and magnesium-rich foods:

  • Green, leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, arugula, romaine lettuce, chard, and broccoli
  • Cultured dairy: milk, cheese, and yogurt

Omega-3-rich foods: 

  • Salmon
  • Wild-caught fish (such as tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines)
  • Flaxseed

Healthy, “good” fats:

  • Nuts (specifically almonds, pecans, walnuts)
  • Avocado
  • Cooking with olive oil

Spices:

  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Lean, grass-fed proteins:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey

Herbal beverages:

  • Green
  • Lemon
  • Honey
  • Chamomile teas

Stay Away from These Inflammatory Foods

While the foods listed below have already been given the “unhealthy” label, they are also considered “inflammatory” and have been known to cause or increase inflammation for new or existing pain.

If you suffer from back and neck pain, be sure to steer clear from, or at least highly-limit your intake of the following:

Added sugar: baked goods, desserts, candy, and soft drinks (fruit has naturally-occurring sugar and should be included in your everyday diet)

Highly-processed foods:

  • Pre-packaged, ready-to-eat: crackers, chips, and deli meat
  • Pre-made, frozen meals: frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners
  • Fast food: greasy chicken nuggets, French fries, and burgers

Unhealthy, "bad” fats:

  • Saturated fat: fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, processed meats such as salami and sausage, chicken skin, and lard
  • Trans fat: fried food, baked goods, and margarine
  • White flour: immediately digests into sugar

Artificial preservatives and flavors: nitrates and monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Alcohol: contains a high volume of sugar and is dehydrating

Any food you may be sensitive or allergic to: ingesting foods that your body is allergic to or cannot tolerate increases the histamine in your body, which leads to excess inflammation.

We Can Help!

If you find your back or neck pain has not subsided or has returned after switching to an anti-inflammatory diet, request an appointment with us. We’ll help you get back to a pain-free life!