Inflammation is a huge contributor to back pain and sciatica. It can cause any number of symptoms which can directly effect your back's health. People with chronic inflammation may suffer from many of those symptoms, which can include:
- Joint and Muscle Aches and Pains
- Stiffness and Swelling
- Fever and Chills
- Headaches and Fatigue
- Nausea and Loss of Appetite
- And More!
It is not uncommon for people to have many of these symptoms and not even know that it is due to inflammation. They might not even realize they have it! Many people have chronic inflammation and suffer these symptoms for years without knowing why, when often times a simple change to what they are eating could reduce their inflammation and help decrease not only their back pain and sciatica but the other symptoms as well!
So what foods are good and bad for your back? Here are some tips of what foods to try and avoid for better health:
- First is anything high in Sugar. Although this may seem obvious, a lot of people don't understand why sugar is such a problem. The issue is not with sugar itself, but with how much of it people are ingesting. A little bit of sugar is fine, but many people are eating way more than their bodies can handle.
To put it in the simplest terms: when there is too much sugar in the body, it causes an increase in something called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which causes damage to proteins in the body. Then the body's immune system attacks the AGEs, and the result of that is inflammation.
- Another obvious food type to avoid is anything that is processed. These are not only high in sugar or sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup, but also in other bad for you items like Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Trans Fats. Omega-6 Fatty Acids in particular cause inflammation and have been linked to arthritis and even cancer. Processed foods also tend to include no-no's like artificial compounds, additives, colors, preservatives, and all sorts of chemicals.
- The third type of food to avoid is not so obvious: caffeine. One of coffee's main affects is to increase the levels of stress hormones in your body. This increase in turn leads to an increase of insulin, which causes inflammation.
Most of the time when we say a certain food is "bad" for your back, like in the following list, it is because it is high in one or more of those three items. Conversely, foods that are "good" do not have high levels of those three items. Here is a brief list of other foods that are good and bad for your back:
Bad - Any soft drinks, sport drinks, alcohol, coffee, or tea.
Good - Water (mineral, filtered, or distilled) or decaffeinated herbal tea
Bad - Almost everything: butter, cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, many more
Good - Dairy substitutes such as almond, coconut, or rice milk
Bad - Corn, wheat, rye, barley, anything containing gluten
Good - Potatoes, oats, rice
Meat, Chicken, Fish
Bad - Beef, Pork, Shellfish, Eggs, other meat related foods like hot dogs or sausage
Good - Chicken, fish, turkey
Bad - Oranges (very high in sugars)
Good - Any other fruits
Bad - Corn
Good - All other vegetables
Bad - Peanuts and peanut butter, tofu, anything with soy
Good - Almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, walnuts, all legumes except soybeans
Bad - Chocolate, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, soy sauce
Good - Most spices (salt, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, etc.) and vinegar
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate everyone as much as possible about their back pain and sciatica, because it is proven that the more people know about their problem the more likely they are to eliminate it!
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