The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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Whether caused by a sports industry or sleeping on a poor mattress, back pain can be absolutely debilitating, making even simple tasks difficult to accomplish. Treating back pain can be difficult, since it involves large muscle groups along with the nerves and bone of the spine. While many immediately turn to pain medications, diet can actually play a key role in relieving and preventing back pain.

Supporting the Spine

While we think of them as hard, lifeless components of the body, your bones require nutrients and minerals just like organs, muscles, and other soft tissues. This is especially true for the spinal cord, the main thoroughfare for the central nervous system. Supporting your spine through diet, and thereby preventing pain, focuses on two primary nutrients: Vitamin D and calcium. Calcium is the essential ingredient for strong, healthy bones, while Vitamin D enhances the body’s ability to effectively absorb calcium for use in strengthening the spine.

Foods that Cause Inflammation

Even if you don’t have any food allergies, the things you eat can have harmful reactions in the body. One of the most common is inflammation, a significant cause of pain throughout the body and particularly the sensitive spine and muscles of the back. Vegetables of the nightshade family are well-known causes of inflammation and should be avoided by those with chronic back pain. Nightshade vegetables include white potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, so consider crossing these off your grocery list.

Foods that Fight Inflammation

Avoiding foods that cause inflammation is only one half of reshaping your diet. The second step, naturally, is to add foods that directly combat inflammation. While you’ll be giving up a few foods in the process, it’s easy to find healthy replacements that can reduce back pain. Some foods that help the body in fighting inflammation of the back include berries and grapes, watermelon, carrots, and sweet potatoes. There are also a number of herbs and spices that decrease inflammation, so consider picking a few up to add to your recipes. Cinnamon, curcumin, garlic, and turmeric are quite versatile in terms of flavor and are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Developing Lean Muscle

Chiropractors from clinics like Fulk Chiropractic don’t just relieve back pain caused by issues with the spine, but also problems from the surrounding muscles. It follows then that your diet can impact how these muscles develop, thereby affecting back pain. Those anti-inflammatory seasonings are useless on their own, so consider adding them to some foods that will supply your back muscles with the protein they need to remain strong and pain-free. Stick to lean meats with healthy fats like skinless chicken breast and fish, while also incorporating plant-based sources like beans or peanuts.

Stay Hydrated

Recommending you get your eight glasses of water per day is almost a cliché, but it’s oft repeated for good reason. Dehydration can have a number of unpleasant side effects including disorientation, vision issues and, as you may have guessed, pain throughout the back and rest of the body. Aside from drinking water, you can double the effect by eating fruits that are both hydrating and provide an anti-inflammatory benefit. Watermelon and several fruits from the berry family are hydrating thanks to their high water content and also combat inflammation, so consider having a few alongside your daily ration of water.

Long-Term Relief

Refocusing your diet to combat back pain requires little effort for such a potent payoff. Not only will it reduce pain and inflammation within the body, but the fruits, vegetable, and lean protein sources that support the back also promote overall fitness and a healthier body weight. Coupled with regular exercise and routine visits to your chiropractor, you can dramatically reduce your back pain and improve your quality of life.

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