Today, in the first part of the three part series I am going to talk about how you can relieve your back and neck pain with just your diet. You may be thinking how will just altering my diet relieve my lower back pain and neck pain. This a typical response that I get from patients in my office. Let’s first discuss what causes your lower back pain or neck pain. Pain is the result of increased inflammation in your body whether it be in a joint in your spine, irritation to a nerve or in a strained muscle. So from a stand point of decreasing your pain in your back or neck we need to decrease the inflammation in your body. And you’ve guessed it, through diet we can decrease the amount of inflammation in your body and promote an anti-inflammatory state so that you are less likely to have pain.
We all suffer from inflammation issues to varying degrees depending on what we eat. Everyone needs to focus on reducing our individual inflammation issues. This process is called “deflaming.” Your diet is the foundation to deflaming. In the second part of this series I will also discuss what supplements you can take to enhance the deflaming process but you must understand that your diet is the key to decreasing inflammation in your body. I am going to outline a no-nonsense approach to healthy, anti-inflammatory eating that will get you deflaming while helping you to avoid unhealthy, pro-inflammatory foods that inflame.
It can be frustrating and depressing to discover that so many foods are pro-inflammatory, leaving you wondering what to eat. But even more depressing is suffering from many of the numerous dieases and conditions associated with inflammation such as chronic pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, digestive conditions, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes to name a few. In reality, “everything in moderation” is a poor term when referring to diet. With every bit or sip, we are either deflamming or inflamming. If you are fortunate and have “good” genes, you may handle pro-inflammatory foods better than your family members or friends. The problem is most inflammatory diseases develop slowly and without symptoms until it is too late. We need to be careful about what pro-inflammatory foods we consume. The fewer inflammatory foods we eat, the less inflammation we will have in our bodies and help to decrease our pain.
So What Foods Are Pro-Inflammatory Foods:
- All Grains and Grain Products: Including white bread, whole wheat bread, pasta, cereal, pretzels, crackers, and any other product made with grains or flours from grains. Especially most desserts and packaged goods.
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils or Trans Fats: Found in margarine, deep fried foods (french fries, etc.) and most packaged foods.
- Vegetable Oils: Corn oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and foods made with these oils such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, margarine, and salad dressings
- Soda, Dairy, Soy and Sugar
- Meat and Eggs from Grain Fed Animals
What Are The Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
- All Fruits and Vegetables: eaten raw or slightly cooked
- Red and Sweet Potatoes: eaten with protein such eggs, fish, meat or fowl
- Fresh Fish (ocean, river or lake)
- Meat, Chicken, Eggs from Grass-Fed Animals: Eatwild.com is a great resource for producers of grass fed animals, and do you best to get lean cuts of meat.
- Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Eggs
- Wild Game Including Deer, Elk, Etc.
- Raw Nuts: raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia.
- Spices: ginger, turmeric, garlic, dill, oregano, coriander, fennel, red chili pepper, basil, and rosemary, etc.
- Sea Salt: if you wish to add salt.
- Oils & Fats: extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Butter from grass fed cows is also a healthy choice.
- Salad Dressing: extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or mustard.
- Beverages: water, organic green tea. If you choose to have alcohol red wine and stout beer are the best choices.
- Candy: Yes candy, go with the dark chocolate.
Altering your diet can have a huge impact on your back and neck pain but you will also notice you will lose weight while following this anti-infammatory diet. In the second part of this post I will be discussing supplements that can also relieve your inflammation and help relieve your lower back pain and neck pain.