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5 Foods to Avoid With Low Back Pain

Medication is one of the remedies that people often turn to, but what if we told you that the answer might be hiding in your pantry, and not inside the medicine cabinet?

And that is what brings us to today’s topic around food and musculo-skeletal conditions, and the fact that there are certain foods to avoid with low back pain.

Fortunately, most cases of low back pain tend to resolve on their own. If your pain doesn’t resolve quickly, and lasts for 3 or more months, it is then considered to be “chronic”. Generally speaking, if your pain lasts longer than 72 hours, it is a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.

While there are many causes of low back pain (see our blog on ‘common causes of low back pain’), your healthcare professional should be able to advise you on the best course of action to treat your specific condition. With that being said, there are some things that you can do to help speed up the healing process. This is where inflammation comes in.

In an ideal situation, inflammation is there to help our bodies heal or to stay healthy. Generally, inflammation is meant to last for a short, specific time, to deal with a certain injury or infection. However, if the inflammatory response goes on for too long it can actually end up hurting our bodies instead of healing them.

This response causes an increase of blood flow to that area of the body, resulting in swelling, warmth, and redness. This process can also cause nerves in that area to be stimulated, causing increased pain sensations.

In the right situation, once the body heals from the virus, injury, or bacteria, the inflammation goes away and everything returns to normal. This is commonly known as localized inflammation and can be one cause of low back pain.

Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies are exposed to things that cause inflammation of a more chronic nature. This happens when the inflammatory response lingers and doesn’t go away.

But there are hidden sugars in our diet, too, that can be just as dangerous.

Savory packaged foods can have even higher levels of sugar than a regular soda or candy bar. Some of these processed foods are even marked as “healthy” which makes them even harder to detect.

Avoiding sugar is hard! So if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, try adding some fresh fruit to your meal. A delicious fruit salad or a juicy apple can help keep those sweet cravings at bay.

Making your own fresh pasta sauce, rather than purchasing one in a jar, is a great way to avoid those hidden sugars. If you just don’t have the time to do that (we get it — life can be hectic) then try and make sure that you buy sauces kept in the cold section of your grocery store, and look out for those sneaky new terms ending in ‘ose’.

Canola oil, safflower, soybean and other vegetable oils are both highly refined, and have a very high ratio of Omega 6 fatty acids to Omega 3s. When these oils are heated at very high temperatures, they oxidize, which triggers the inflammatory process and makes them dangerous to our body tissues.

Fortunately there are a whole host of cold-pressed, unrefined oils that make great alternatives for cooking. Olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and sesame seed oil are some of the super substitutes available at pretty much any grocery store. And they all work really well for cooking and baking.

While many health experts are touting the immense benefits of a plant-based diet, for those who aren’t ready to take the plunge and give up animal products altogether, wild-caught fish, pastured poultry and pork all make great alternatives to provide a good amount of protein to your diet.

Unfortunately the refined carbohydrates in these foods act in a similar way to sugar. They enter the bloodstream quickly, causing a rapid spike in your blood sugar which then triggers the inflammatory response.

Aside from refined grains being inflammatory in nature, they also often contain sugar to help keep them shelf-stable for longer. This means that modern grains tend to have a higher glycemic index, elevating your sugar much higher than unprocessed grains.

A nice glass of wine or a cold beer at the end of a long hard work day might sound like the perfect way to relax and reward yourself but unfortunately it might be having the opposite effect.

Giving up that relaxing nightcap might be tough so it might be a good time to try out a fun mocktail or have a relaxing cup of tea. Some sparkling water with fresh blackberries and muddled mint might be a fun drink to sample. If you find you just can’t give up your evening libation then try to aim for just one drink each night.

If the thought of giving up these foods is just too difficult, we totally get it. Generally, when making changes to your diet, it is often best to start with small sustainable changes, rather than giving everything up all at once. Making some of these small substitutions over a period of time is a great way to start with an anti-inflammatory diet.

The key to reducing your low back pain is to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body, so every little change you can make is a step in the right direction.

If you are including a variety of fresh, nutritious foods, and if you know how to read the food labels for some of those sneaky inflammatory ingredients, you will already be on the path to wellness.

Let us know what your favorite anti-inflammatory foods are, or what successes you have made in swapping out certain foods.

We love hearing success stories!

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