Food for back pain

Food & Inflammation: Eat the Right Foods to Help with Back Pain

At Branko PRPA M.D. we employ a wide range of techniques to help our patients with back pain live more fulfilling, healthier lives. We can often help with surgical methods, but there are also other ways to reduce inflammation and fight back against chronic pain. For example, it might surprise you to learn that inflammatory foods exist. Eating these can make your back pain worse, but fortunately there are also some foods that can help you feel better.

Foods That Can Help Prevent Inflammation

Changing your diet and finding some anti-inflammatory food to eat can help combat back pain.


This fish offers some nutrients that can help you keep inflammation at bay. It’s also full of many nutrients that you need anyway, making it a great addition to your anti-inflammatory food list.


Just like tuna, salmon can give you many of the nutrients you need, including omega-3s, while helping reduce inflammation. Many other types of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also help. Try adding some sardines, black cod, and herring to your anti inflammatory diet. All of these fish can help improve blood flow to your back and keep you healthier.


Carrots can also help reduce inflammation. Like many “deep-colored” vegetables, carrots possess a ton of nutrients that can help fight inflammation and chronic back pain. Try adding chopped carrots to your salad or snacking on baby carrots. They’re crunchy like potato chips, but far better for you.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can also help you reduce inflammation. Some consider the sweet potato a “superfood,” which means that it’s packed with nutrients. That includes nutrients that can help you prevent inflammation. A sweet potato makes for an easy side dish for dinner. Pair it with fish like salmon for double the anti-inflammatory effectiveness!

Red Wine

You don’t have to cut out everything you love when you embark on an anti-inflammatory diet. Red wine can actually help cut down on inflammation too. That’s because grapes offer many of the antioxidants and nutrients you need to fight off back pain. Having a glass of red wine with dinner could be helpful, if you’re otherwise healthy enough to consume alcohol.


We all know that nuts are a healthy snack, but did you know that they can also be a crucial part of an anti-inflammatory diet? Food like almonds and cashews contain good fats and other nutrients that are important for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

Olive Oil

This common cooking oil can also be an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. This is the healthy alternative to other types of cooking oil. If you’re frequently cooking with some kinds of vegetable oils, like corn oil or safflower oil, think about switching to olive oil.

Green Tea

If you need your caffeine in the morning, opt for green tea occasionally. In addition to the other health benefits it offers, it can be an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Spices and Seasonings

Some common cooking spices and seasonings can also help you reduce back pain. Try adding some more basil, cinnamon, and turmeric to your diet. Each one has anti-inflammatory properties that can help you live a more active life with less back pain.

These are just a few of the anti-inflammatory foods that can help you. Contact us at 414-939-5447 or make an appointment at our office to learn more about how we can help you alleviate your back pain.

Have you been experiencing spinal issues lately? Or are you looking for ways to prevent them? Believe it or not, the foods you eat can play a role in spine health.

Certain foods are packed with what your back needs in order to remain healthy and strong. So good back health can start with making the right food choices.

Avoiding bad foods is one way to increase health. Choosing the right ones is the best way to go.

What foods are best for spine health? Keep reading to find out. Here are eight foods that will help keep your spine strong and healthy.

1. Plant-Based Proteins

The proteins you get from certain plants are great for your spine health. These proteins are different than the ones found in meat.

Stick to plant-based proteins as much as possible. Animal-based proteins can lead to inflammation.

Instead, get your protein from foods like chia seeds, lentils, and beans. Not only do they provide protein, they pack a nutritional punch in other ways, too. You’ll get a variety of helpful antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals as well.

If you’d still like to get some animal-based protein in your diet, go for lean picks. This means choosing chicken and fish over beef and pork.

2. Vegetables

Vegetables are good for you in general, so make sure you get a lot of them each day to improve your overall health. While healthy all around, veggies are also great for fighting back issues.

Certain vegetables contain properties that will help fight spinal issues.

Kale, broccoli, and spinach work well against inflammation. Each of these vegetables also contains nutrients that will help strengthen your spine. As the literal backbone of your body’s skeletal system, your spine can use all the nutritional help it can get.

As a rule of thumb, veggies with strong natural pigments are best.

3. Salmon

If you’re not opposed to seafood, add some salmon to your diet regularly. Salmon is a great source of lean protein, as well as well as another helpful nutrient: omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids promote bone and tissue health. They also fight against inflammation, just like those leafy green vegetables mentioned above.

Luckily, salmon is versatile and tasty when prepared the right way. There are plenty of fantastic salmon dishes for you to try. They’ll spice up your menu and benefit your back at the same time.

4. Dairy Products

Calcium is super important for maintaining and improving bone health. The easiest way to get extra calcium in your diet without taking a supplement? Increase your dairy intake.

Don’t choose just any dairy products, though. Specifically, go for the ones that are high in calcium. Cheese, milk, and yogurt all fall into this category.

Like with many other food groups, though, you can overdo it with dairy. Don’t binge on your favorite cheese with the excuse of needing the extra calcium. Be smart about how you eat dairy products so you don’t get too much fat or cholesterol in your diet.

Calcium can be found in other foods, too. Among them are those leafy green vegetables we’ve already talked about.

5. Herbs and Spices

Many herbs and spices are great for promoting spinal health. Turmeric, a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine, including curry dishes, helps fix damaged tissue.

There are herbs that fight inflammation as well. These include cinnamon, rosemary, basil, and ginger.

Add these and other healthy spices and herbs to your recipes throughout the day. Or use them to create a healthy, delicious herbal tea. Herbal teas help strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation, and taste great at the same time.

6. Fruits

Just like vegetables, you should go for the highly-pigmented types here. And like dairy, you don’t want to overdo it. Remember, fruit is sugar, so eating too much can be more of a detriment to your health than a benefit.

While you need to be responsible when eating fruits, they have many health benefits.

Berries are particularly great for your spinal health. They’re packed with antioxidants and nutrients that will help your spine get and stay healthy.

So add those berries to breakfasts, dinners, lunches, you name it. You can even use them as dessert.

7. Avocados

Whether you’re a fan of avocados or not, they’re great for your spine. They’re full of healthy fats that your body needs as well as fiber and potassium. These things make avocados great for your health overall.

Whether it’s good fat or not, avocados are fatty foods, so make sure you don’t overdo it.

If you don’t like avocados, try using them in ways you haven’t before. In recent years tons of recipes have emerged for avocado toast, addition to a smoothie and other tasty meals. You don’t have to limit yourself to a plain slice with a salad or a guacamole dip.

One of the greatest things about avocados? They help to reduce back pain.

Eat Your Way to Great Spine Health

Exercises and medicine may be your first thoughts when it comes to remedies for spinal issues, but you can eat your way to good health too. You just have to choose foods that are great for your body, particularly for your spine.

Spinal health is so important for your day-to-day interactions. So give yourself a leg up by packing your diet with these seven healthy foods. They’ll help improve your spine health, as well as your health overall.

Are you interested in trying physical therapy to help with your back pain? Contact us to see how we can help today.

Foods that Help Back Pain

Last Updated: January 24th, 2020 at 07:26 pm Read Time: 6 Minutes

While your first thought to ease back pain might be to resort to pain medications and other over-the-counter solutions, back pain relief might be easier to find than you think. At ChiroCare of Florida, our doctors are always talking about the close relationship between our diets and our health, and that includes our spine’s health. As it turns out, certain foods can help ease back pain.

As you start working on your health by adding chiropractic visits to your calendar, consider incorporating these foods into your diet to help with back pain relief as well.

Foods to Ease Back Pain

The research is not all in, but there’s significant evidence that points to the anti-inflammatory properties of certain foods and their link to reducing back pain. As we know, following a healthy diet is closely related to healthy bones and organs, and ultimately a healthy body. If you’ve been experiencing back pain, adding foods into your diet that squash inflammation can help you find back pain relief.


Ginger root can be used in recipes from stir-fry dishes and gingerbread cookies, to ginger tea infusions. Ginger is rich in compounds known to reduce inflammation, which is often linked to back pain. Incorporating two to three teaspoons of ginger a day should be enough to help ease back pain.


Turmeric is experiencing a resurgence in popularity thanks to its impressive healing properties. Used for years by ancient Asian civilizations in religious ceremonies and for wellness purposes, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice that can help ease pain. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, turmeric inhibits a specific protein that activates the body’s natural inflammatory response, which leads to achy joints.

All nuts are powerful anti-inflammatory properties. From walnuts and pecans to cashews and almonds, nuts are an easy way to include foods that help with back pain in your diet. A handful of nuts per day (a daily serving of 30 grams), should be enough to benefit from their anti-inflammatory properties.


Caffeine is the main ingredient in many over-the-counter pain medications. Common painkillers count on caffeine to reduce pain symptoms. Research from the University of Georgia discovered that drinking two cups of coffee helped reduce post-workout pain by 50 percent. However, when drinking coffee, it is essential to pair each cup of coffee with a glass of water. Coffee can have diuretic properties and lead to dehydration, which can cause the opposite effect that you are trying to achieve, and worsen your back pain.

Red Grapes

The powerful compound present in red grapes, resveratrol, has gained popularity thanks to its antioxidant properties. But, resveratrol can also help block enzymes that contribute to tissue degeneration, which can lead to cartilage damage, and subsequently lead to back pain. Other foods rich in resveratrol include raspberries, cranberries, and red wine.

Extra virgin olive oil might have properties similar to ibuprofen. Olive oil is often a key ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, and those who follow this diet seem to have fewer health conditions, such as joint diseases, that may be related to inflammation.


Thyme is much more than a fragrant herb. Research suggests thyme is rich in compounds that interfere with the perception of pain, functioning as a natural painkiller. Thyme also functions as an anti-inflammatory aid to reduce pain.


Incorporating 40 grams of soy protein into your diet can help ease back pain by 30 percent or more. Tofu, edamame, and soy milk are some soy products that can help with back pain. Edamame is rich in isoflavones, plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties that provide pain relief.

Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, can help tame the pain associated with chronic back pain. Oily fishes work like anti-inflammatory and pain medications without side effects. Two to four meals a week that include a fatty fish such as salmon can help with back pain.


Thanks to their rich antioxidants and pain-fighting anthocyanins, cherries can help reduce inflammation levels significantly. These pain-calming antioxidants are also found in raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Including tart cherries into your daily diet can dramatically help reduce back pain symptoms.

Foods to Avoid

As some foods help ease back pain, other foods can exacerbate your back pain symptoms. As you want to eat more anti-inflammatory foods, you want to stay away from foods that cause bloating, inflammation, and thus pain.

To avoid aggravating your back pain symptoms, avoid these foods:

  • Vegetable oils – sunflower, mixed vegetable oils, and corn
  • Vegetable and margarine shortening
  • All processed foods
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Foods high in saturated fats
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Foods with trans-fats

Where to Eat Foods that Help Back Pain?

While you want to make sure anti-inflammatory foods are part of your daily diet, you might also want to spend a little less time in the kitchen and more time out and about. In this case, you want to make sure you visit restaurants and food chains that offer food options to ease back pain. We know these might not be marketed as such, but spotting healthy restaurants near you can help you adhere to your anti-inflammatory diet even when you’re eating out.

In Aventura

The Aventura lifestyle is active, healthy, and fast-paced. Looking for healthy restaurants in the Aventura area is not difficult – a quick stroll by Biscayne Boulevard and you’ll spot plenty of healthy restaurants to stop by and indulge in an anti-inflammatory meal.

Here are some spots to eat foods that help back pain in Aventura:

  • Raw Republic – for a quick smoothie whenever you’re on-the-go.
  • Juice and Java – from organic pasta options to specialty juices and more.
  • Miami Squeeze – for a quick bite with tons of nutrients.

In Fort Lauderdale

Being beach-side, the Fort Lauderdale area has plenty of fresh and healthy options to choose from. If you visit any of these spots, browse through the menu to find dishes with the anti-inflammatory foods we mentioned earlier.

These are some of the top healthy foods spots in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Fresh First – organic and gluten-free options for those looking for a small plate packed with nutrients.
  • Green Bar & Kitchen – sustainable health-focused meal for those looking for delicious comfort foods.
  • Myapapaya Juicery + Kitchen – stop by for a refreshing house-pressed juice and don’t forget to add those anti-inflammatory extras.

In Plantation

With its active lifestyle and plenty of parks for outdoor activities, Plantation is a mecca for healthy food spots. From breakfast to dinner and everything in between, there’s a healthy restaurant near you to enjoy foods that help back pain.

Explore some of the healthy food restaurants in Plantation:

  • Greenwave Café – not only can you find fresh produce here, but you can also learn how to cook it or enjoy a quick bite of their healthy raw food.
  • Fitlife Foods Plantation – meal prep done for you, Fitlife can help you make sure you incorporate foods that fight back pain into your diet.
  • Aroa Craft Yogurt & Café – enjoy comfort food with a healthy side.

In Pompano Beach

Being so close to other major cities, Pompano Beach’s healthy food options are endless. From juice bars to healthy spots for lunch, and other fit-friendly options available for you, there’s no excuse to spurn a healthy diet in Pompano Beach.

Visit some of the top healthy restaurants in Pompano Beach:

  • Juice 2U – grab a juice to go with all the nutrients you’ll need for the day.
  • Nikki’s Orange Kitchen – a block away from the beach, this healthy restaurant is the perfect weekend spot.
  • Shishka Grill – Lebanese food not only packs tons of nutrients, but its delicious dishes also make it perfect to incorporate healthy ingredients into your diet.

Now that you know the type of foods that can help ease back pain, you can start incorporating these into your diet. At ChiroCare of Florida, we believe in a comprehensive approach to wellness, which is why our chiropractors can provide nutritional advice to help with your back pain. Contact ChiroCare of Florida today to schedule your wellness consultation.

Why do I get a pain in my back after eating?

The following issues can lead to back pain after eating:

1. Allergies and intolerances

Share on PinterestInflammation and back pain may be caused by dairy, gluten, and sugar.

People with allergies or intolerances to certain foods may experience inflammation after eating them. If they already have back pain, the inflammation can make symptoms worse.

Examples of foods that may trigger inflammation and back pain include:

  • alcohol
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • peanuts
  • sugar

Some foods can aggravate underlying conditions, resulting in back pain. For example, very spicy foods can cause heartburn, making back pain worse.

2. Gallbladder inflammation and gallstones

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that sits below the liver. It stores and releases bile, a fluid that helps the body to digest fats.

The gallbladder can become inflamed, especially if hard deposits known as gallstones are present. Eating fatty foods can trigger a gallbladder attack, in which the organ becomes inflamed and causes pain.

Typical symptoms of a gallbladder attack include nausea and severe pain in the upper abdomen. This pain may radiate to the back.

3. Heart attack

Back pain can signal a heart attack, especially if accompanied by symptoms such as:

  • chest pain
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • pain in the arm, jaw, or neck
  • sweating

According to the American Heart Association, women are more likely than men to experience atypical heart attack symptoms. These may include:

  • back pain
  • pressure in the upper back
  • dizziness
  • pain in the abdomen
  • shortness of breath

It should be noted that women do not always have chest pain when experiencing heart problems.

4. Heartburn

Back pain after eating may result from heartburn, a digestive condition characterized by burning pain in the chest. It is estimated that over 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.

Other symptoms may include a sour taste in the mouth, a sore throat, and a cough. Certain foods may trigger heartburn symptoms, including:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • spicy foods
  • tomatoes

Experiencing heartburn more than twice a week may indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to ulcers if not properly managed.

5. Kidney infection

Share on PinterestA kidney infection may cause vomiting, fever, nausea, and back pain.

A kidney infection can cause back pain, as well as:

  • abdominal pain
  • blood in the urine
  • a burning sensation while urinating
  • chills
  • fever
  • frequent urination
  • nausea
  • urinary urgency
  • vomiting

Symptoms are typically present throughout the day, though some people may notice them more after eating. Anyone who suspects that they have a kidney infection should seek medical attention to prevent complications.

6. Pancreatitis

The pancreas is an organ that participates in digestion and blood sugar regulation. Inflammmation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis. Symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain that gets worse after eating
  • back pain
  • a fast pulse
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Authors of a 2013 study report that approximately 70 percent of pancreatitis cases are caused by long-term, heavy alcohol consumption.

7. Poor posture

Bad posture is a common cause of back pain. A person who is hunched over during meals may experience this pain after eating.

Poor posture while sitting, standing, or working at a desk can also lead to back pain at any time of the day.

8. Ulcer

An ulcer in the stomach or esophagus may lead to pain that radiates to the back. Other ulcer symptoms include:

  • belching
  • bloating
  • a burning pain in the stomach
  • feeling full after eating
  • gas
  • heartburn
  • nausea

Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) often causes ulcers. They may also be caused by long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Spicy or acidic foods can make ulcer symptoms worse.

Got Pain? Here’s What to Eat to Help You Feel Better

Inflammation causes pain and healthier eating can reduce it. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can be an effective way to fight pain and even ease symptoms of some chronic conditions.

Medical professionals and researchers are trying to figure out the best ways to prevent and treat chronic pain. If your pain is due to inflammation, one thing is clear: what and how much you eat is an important piece of the puzzle.

Get to the Source

Many conditions are associated with inflammation, including injury or infection, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pelvic inflammatory disorder, Crohn’s disease, colitis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hepatitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, vasculitis, autoimmune disorders, some cancers, sinusitis, and chronic periodontitis. While some types of pain can only be relieved by medical treatments, chronic pain due to inflammation can be improved by following a healthier diet.1,2,3

“Good nutrition is an important part of wellbeing,” says Robert J. Gatchel, PhD, professor in the department of psychology, College of Science, at the University of Texas at Arlington. “A reasonably healthy diet allows your body to better manage pain.”

Why Weight Matters

If you have back pain, joint pain, or any type of musculoskeletal pain, you know how much it hurts to pick up and carry something heavy. For the same reason, when you’re overweight you are carrying extra pounds that are putting excess weight on your muscles, bones, and joints. You have to pick up that extra weight when you try to get out of bed in the morning and you carry it with you throughout the entire day. Any existing pain from disease or damage to your body can only worsen with added weight.

If you are overweight, you are actually “overfat.” Although the connection is still unclear, studies suggest that people who carry excess fat, particularly in the abdominal area, are at higher risk of developing low-grade inflammation throughout their bodies. 4,5,6,7,8 That extra body fat plays a role in painful health problems such as fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, abdominal pain, pelvic pain, arthritis, and lower back pain.

Fatty Foods and Red Meat

Eating a high-fat diet activates cells that promote inflammation in your body’s fatty tissue. That inflammation contributes to obesity and medical conditions associated with being overweight, including insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. Red meat, especially processed red meat—cold cuts, sausages, and bacon—is high in saturated fat and, when regularly consumed as part of a traditional American diet, has been linked to low-grade chronic inflammation. Meat is also high in protein and, long-term, too much protein can also increase inflammation in your body. One study from Viterbo University and Mayo Clinic found that vegetarians have significantly less inflammation in their fatty tissue, even when they are overweight or obese.9

How Seafood and Omega-3 Fats Can Help

Many of the studies linking omega-3 fatty acids—consumed from fatty fish like salmon and herring, fish oils, flaxseeds, and other sources—to the reduction of inflammation and chronic pain have involved patients with arthritis and cardiovascular heart disease. At least one study also found that even when inflammation was controlled by medication, omega-3s helped reduce residual pain that was due to factors other than inflammation.10 These findings led researchers to conclude that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, before inflammation intensifies.

However, not all fatty acids are created equal—the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids (from palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower) also matters. A study of people with knee osteoarthritis whose diet was higher in omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats had more pain and more physical limitations than those who had a higher ratio of omega-3 fats to omega 6.11 This supports the theory that the balance of different fats in your diet from different sources is as important as the types and amount of fat you eat.

The Value of a Plant-Based Diet

Eating a plant-based diet may hold the key to fighting inflammation, obesity, and conditions that lead to painful chronic disease. A traditional Mediterranean-style diet, when used to replace a traditional American diet, has been shown to reduce markers of chronic inflammation as well as lowering the risk of developing or dying from chronic diseases associated with inflammation.3,9 To help reduce inflammation, increase fiber in your diet, and improve your overall health, substitute high-protein plant foods such as legumes, nuts, and whole grains (as long as you’re not sensitive or allergic to any of these foods) for some or all of the meat in your daily diet.

The Role of Medicinal Herbs and Spices

For centuries, practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and other alternative and complementary forms of health care have long known the value of medical herbs and spices, including those that reduce pain and inflammation. More recently, scientists have confirmed the anti-inflammatory effects of herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, sage, and rosemary and continue to study their role in fighting pain. For instance, compounds in ginger are particularly effective in the gastro-intestinal tract.12 Cinnamon has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of menstrual pain.13 Turmeric can reduce joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis, inhibit cancer cells, and slow the progression of diabetes-related disorders.14 Substances in rosemary have the potential to fight a variety of inflammatory diseases, bronchial asthma, peptic ulcer, and liver toxicity, and protect against cancer.15

Before Changing Your Diet, Check First

Some dietary changes may not be appropriate for some medical conditions. In order to get a sense of what is best for you, speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian before making any drastic changes. And since nutrients, herbs, and other substances in supplemental form can sometimes interfere with medical treatments, or cause problems of their own, it is also important to tell your health care providers what vitamins or supplements you are taking.

“To feel your best, your body needs to be in a state of homeostasis, or balance, when it comes to nutrition, exercise, and sleep,” Dr Gatchel asserts. “When that balance is off, there are going to be consequences in the form of symptoms.”

Updated on: 04/29/19 View Sources

Robert J. Gatchel, PhD, APPB. Phone interview. July 25, 2017.

1. Maroon JC, Bost JW, Maroon A. Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surgical Neurology International. 2010;1:80.

3. Schwingshackl L and Hoffmann G. Mediterranean dietary pattern, inflammation and endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases; September 2014(9):929-939.

6. Collins B, Hoffman J, Martinez K, et al. A polyphenol-rich fraction obtained from table grapes decreases adiposity, insulin resistance and markers of inflammation and impacts gut microbiota in high-fat-fed mice. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2016;31:150-165. Available at:

7.Kranendonk MEG, van Herwaarden JA, Stupkova T. Inflammatory characteristics of distinct abdominal adipose tissue depots relate differently to metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease; Distinct fat depots and vascular risk factors. Atherosclerosis. April 2015;239(2):419-27

8. Okifuji A, Hare BD. The association between chronic pan and obesity. Journal of Pain Research. 2015;8:399-408.

15. Hari A, Kumarasamy P Sujatha PL, Sureshkannan S, Sankar P. A computational approach to use the active compounds in rosemary (rosmarinusofficinalis), responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties, as potential ligands in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NASAIDs). Biomirror. ISSN 0976-9080; 2014.

Continue Reading: Becky’s Journey: Integrative Pain Management Program Teaches Patient to Manage Chronic Pain

5 Foods That Help Relieve Back Pain

It’s no secret maintaining a balanced diet can have a positive impact on your overall wellness, and such benefits extend to the bones, muscles, discs, and joints that support your spine. If you’re living with any degree of back pain, paying attention to foods rich in essential vitamins and nutrients can provide some much-needed relief. The Santa Monica spine surgeons at The Spine Institute discuss a few foods that may be helpful in relieving your back pain.

1. Colorful Fruits

Injured vertebral discs, tendons, and ligaments need vitamin C to aid with the formation of collagen, which facilitates the natural healing process. Vitamin C is found in abundance in colorful fruits like oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, guavas, and kiwi. The vitamin A in many of these fruits can also help with tissue repair.

2. Green, Leafy Veggies

The beta-carotene in green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and Swiss chard is converted into vitamin A within the body. The vitamin D and calcium in kale and broccoli promotes bone and muscle strength, and the magnesium in spinach maintains muscle tone and bone density.

3. Lean Meats

The iron in lean meats like liver, skinless poultry, and pork helps cells within the muscles and other soft tissues that support the spine absorb more oxygen. Lean meats are also a reliable source of vitamin B12, which keeps bone marrow within the spine healthy.

4. Low-Fat Dairy Products

Yogurt, cheese, eggs, and milk also provide plenty of B12. The calcium in dairy products is especially beneficial for maintaining bone strength and minimizing your risk of sustaining a spinal fracture.

5. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices

Inflammation is one of the main contributing factors to most instances of back pain. Ginger, oregano, cinnamon, marjoram, and Jamaican allspice are among the many herbs and spices with known anti-inflammatory properties.

Consider supplements to fill any nutritional gaps from your diet. Check with your doctor first to make sure you choose products appropriate for your dietary needs. Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise can further reduce your odds of experiencing back pain.

For additional tips on alleviating back pain, turn to the professional spinal surgeons at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We specialize in a wide variety of minimally invasive procedures like the artificial disc replacement lumbar Santa Monica residents opt for. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to learn more.

Anyone who works at a desk job knows back pain is inevitable. Sitting for long periods of time strains our shoulders, backs, and necks, and while standing and treadmill desks or yoga ball chairs have become popular solutions, it turns out there’s a whole other contributing factor we need to pay attention to: what we’re eating.

Nutrition is one part of a three-pronged approach that Dr. Todd Sinett, chiropractor, certified trainer, and author of the recent book 3 Weeks to a Better Back, uses to tackle back pain. His method also examines these ailments structurally (muscle and bones) and emotionally (everyday stress), but diet is definitely the piece of the puzzle that barely anyone considers.

Major dietary causes of back pain include caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Dr. Sinett says you can’t pinpoint what back pain caused by diet feels like, exactly–it could range from severe lower back pain to a chronic aching neck. He notes that the science connecting diet and back pain applies to all levels of discomfort, concluding that eating a large amount of inflammatory food (more on that below) can cause muscles to contract without relaxing. If that persists over a long period of time, it can cause back spasms and irritation. Major dietary causes of back pain, he says, include excessive caffeine, alcohol, and sugar–all things that increase cortisol levels. When there’s excess cortisol in the body, connective tissue can get inflamed, causing pain.

Other stress-causing, cortisol-promoting eating habits include skipping meals, eating large portions, or limiting yourself to a restrictive diet over a long period. You’re not off the hook if all you eat are salads every day, either, since that “roughage,” as Sinett calls it, “causes your digestive tract to go into overdrive very quickly” and triggers the muscular system, too. One way to fix that is by varying the kinds of food you eat day to day and breaking away from routine. Sinett himself used to eat high-fiber oatmeal every morning before developing bloating, stomach pain, and eventually a stiff neck.

Sinett has his patients try an elimination diet for three weeks, which he says is an effective time period to see a response and “clean out your system.” Here’s a list of inflammatory foods Sinett says to avoid if you want to help remedy back pain:

Art by Jen Chalet

The most important takeaway is to eat more mindfully. “I want you to realize and pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain foods,” Sinett says.

Kristina Rodulfo Beauty Director Kristina Rodulfo is the Beauty Director of Women’s Health—she oversees beauty coverage across print and digital and is an expert in product testing, identifying trends, and exploring the intersections of beauty, wellness, and culture.

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