Diet, Food, and Back Pain
Diet is often overlooked as a cause for chronic back pain. The foods listed below should be completely avoided by people suffering with chronic back pain conditions.
The Top 5 Foods to Avoid For Those With Chronic Pain
Foods that create inflammation, interfere with normal body function, and contribute to back pain:
- Trans or hydrogenated fats. Common foods with trans fat include – margarine and other butter substitutes, cake icing, peanut butter, pop corn, and fried foods. Even if the label says 0 grams of trans fat on the front of the package, it may still contain a ½ gram of trans fat per serving size. Many food manufacturers changed their serving sizes so they could put “0 Trans Fat” on their packaging. If a food contains any amount of trans or hydrogenated fat, it should be avoided. This type of fat disrupts the way your body uses omega 3 fats. This fat also disrupts the way your body handles tissue inflammation. If you have chronic or acute back pain it should be avoided at all costs.
- Cereals, breads, and pasta. Grain based foods contain very high levels of omega 6 fatty acids. This type of fat leads to the creation of inflammatory chemicals within the body. This type of fat also works against the anti inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Recent research published in the journal Surgical Neurology found that increasing EPA and DHA (nutrients found in omega 3 oils) through supplementation improved back pain and reduced the need to use pain medications in most patients studied. Cereals, breads, pastas and other grain based foods should be avoided in those with chronic back pain to facilitate the body’s ability to resolve inflammation and heal.
- Fried Foods. This includes items such as chips, French fries, fried meats (chicken, steak, etc.), and even fried vegetables. Commercially fried foods are typically cooked in Trans fat at high temperatures. This process creates a cancer causing chemical called acrylamide. Even frying in canola, soybean, corn, or other oils can be problematic. These oils tend to become rancid when exposed to high temperatures. Again these oils are rich in omega 6 fatty acids that tend to elevate tissue inflammation. Cooking in these oils contribute to cancer, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and more. They thicken the blood making it more difficult for the body to deliver nutrients to tissues thus decreasing the body’s ability to heal.
- Sodas and Artificial Sweeteners. Soft drinks contain 10 teaspoons of sugar, high levels of caffeine, artificial colors and flavors, sulphites, and carbonated water. If the soda is sugar free, it typically contains chemical sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Sugar contributes to excessive insulin levels in the body which in turn are linked to weight gain, diabetes, and the reduction of the body’s ability to heal properly. Caffeine is a drug that causes the loss of vitamins and minerals in the urine. Additionally, it causes chronic muscle spasms. Both of these affects lead to the diminished ability to heal and recover from back pain. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to contribute to cancer and contrary to popular belief; artificial sweeteners still contribute to high insulin levels in the body. A recent report from the Duke University Medical Center found that Splenda interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients and medications. An organization called Citizens for Health has recently filed a petition to the FDA to remove Splenda from the market due to health and safety concerns. Soda should be completely avoided.
- Sugar. If sugar were newly released on the market today, it could be classified as a drug. Sugar contributes to inflammation, elevated insulin levels, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and more. Because it supplies empty Calories, its digestion causes the body to use up more vitamins and minerals. Sugar has been shown to depress the immune system leading to delayed healing in the body.