There are a lot of ways to treat back pain. Physical therapy, stretching, and pain relief medications are what we use most often.
But one thing that seems to get overlooked is diet. Food is often the best medicine. This is especially true when you are suffering from inflammation, which is frequently the case for back pain sufferers.
Eating the right foods – and avoiding certain foods – can not only relieve pain, but also help your body heal.
If you are living with back pain, chances are you can make some changes to your diet that will help you feel better.
Here are some easy changes to your diet that will get you on the road to feeling better.
Pumpkin seeds are flavorful and an excellent source of protein and iron. And they also can help reduce nerve pain.
Pumpkin seeds are rich with magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral for regulating our nervous system. There is research showing that magnesium can reduce pain signals in the brain.
Many people are deficient in magnesium. By some estimates roughly 80% of people in the United States have a magnesium deficiency. But fear not, because just one serving of pumpkin seeds provides almost half your daily recommended value of magnesium.
Chia seeds are another nutrient-packed food that can help with back pain. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation. This is important because people with chronic back pain usually have a lot of inflammation. Even if your back pain is due to mechanical problems – which is often the case – reducing inflammation can help you feel less pain.
Cherries, especially tart cherries, have been shown to decrease muscle pain over a period of days. This has been documented in runners, but the same principle holds true for ordinary people with back pain.
Another benefit of tart cherries is better sleep. They contain high levels of melatonin, which is known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin helps people get to sleep faster and regulates your sleep cycle. Insomnia and chronic pain often go hand-in-hand, so addressing your insomnia can end up helping with pain relief.
If you take NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, you should consider adding a healthy dose of ginger to your diet. Ginger is one of the best foods for reducing inflammation. Study after study has shown that the compound gingerol – one of the active ingredients in ginger – is a potent pain reliever.
Adding ginger to your diet is easy. Chopped or grated ginger root goes great with both sweet and savory dishes. Many ginger supplements are also available if you dislike the way it tastes in food.
If you choose to go the supplement route, consider taking a supplement with both ginger and turmeric (we recommend Curafen). This way you get a potent mixture of two of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories out there.
There are several reasons why avocados are great for those of us with chronic back pain. Just like chia seeds, they provide fatty acids that help reduce inflammation. Avocados also are a rich source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that helps keep joints healthy. Here is what Dr. Joshua Axe says about potassium and pain:
Potassium aids in flushing waste and other toxins out of your body’s cells, so low levels of potassium can cause joint pain and swelling. The average American consumes much less potassium than they really need, due to eating little fruits and veggies.
Avocados go great in salads, smoothies… and just about everything else. If you don't like the taste of avocados, most leafy greens and fruits have plenty of potassium in them. Another good source of potassium is coconut water. Just avoid brands that are too sugary.
Without a doubt, if you want long-term back and spine health then you need to get enough calcium. People have traditionally obtained their calcium through dairy products, but there is growing evidence that dairy is linked to inflammation. The calcium in leafy greens strengthens the bones in your vertebrae and helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
You can get enough calcium from other foods. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce are also packed with calcium, not to mention potassium and other nutrients.
The list of health benefits of avocado goes on and on. From fighting heart disease to inflammation, there are many reasons why you should include a generous amount of olive oil in your diet.
When it comes to pain relief, there is strong evidence that extra virgin olive oil has an effect similar to ibuprofen. Oleocanthal is a compound naturally found in olive oil with the ability to slow down pain pathways in the nervous system.
The challenge is that many store-bought olive oils are relatively low in oleocanthal. It is best to find a high-quality brand of extra virgin olive oil with minimal processing.