One Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a Grammy-winning recording artist, who was suffering from severe upper back and neck pain. She was concerned that she wasn’t going to be able to make it through her performance on Saturday Night Live the following day. Her pain was so bad that she could not turn her head. I examined her and noticed that her whole muscular system was tight. I could also tell she was suffering from severe gas pains and she told me that her on-the-road diet consisted of primarily fast foods and processed foods. After further assessment, I determined the root of her back pain was an inflamed digestive system.
The solution – a healthy nutrition plan. Unfortunately, I could not cure her immediately. When a physical reaction is that severe, it reflects a toxic buildup within the body, which requires a reorientation of the diet, and time for the whole body to readjust. As noted in “Is Your Diet Causing Your Back Pain, ” a study published by the Asian Spine Journal in 2014, showed that 31% of women and 24.6% of men who were suffering from back pain also suffered from gastrointestinal complaints such as abdominal pain or food intolerance.
For this post, let’s look at healthy and unhealthy diets contribute to back pain, and tips on how to avoid it. But, you can take my digestive assessment here to obtain your personal score on nutrition-related back pain. And, to reduce your nutrition-related internal inflammation, you could find relief by trying The Back Pain Relief Diet and identifying and eliminating foods that are particularly irritating, and it includes a list of approved and non-approved foods and a set of recipes that can help eliminate food-related inflammation.
Are You Eating Too Healthy?
About 20% of the patients I encounter describe themselves as “health nuts.” Fruits and vegetables, salads, smoothies, and other roughage are the foundation of their diets. If you are a self-described “health nut.” over-consumption of one or two food groups can irritate your digestive system, and leads to bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and even constipation. By introducing whole grains, more protein and even some dairy, the body has better positive absorption and the back pain goes away. Listed below are some of the healthily foods that cause trouble when eaten repetitively:
- Egg whites
- Raw vegetables
- Frozen yogurt
- Fresh-squeezed juices
- Protein bars
Are You Eating Too Unhealthy?
Caffeine, alcohol, and sugar have been shown to increase cortisol levels, which can inflame connective tissue throughout the body and cause pain. Eating large meals, skipping meals, or consuming only low-carb foods can result in low blood sugar and create more stress in the body. To help you eradicate some of the unhealthy habits that lead to back pain, listed below are a few tips:
- Drink plenty of water – Coffee, iced tea, and beer do not constitute fluid and can dehydrate you. Lack of water causes the spinal discs to be dry.
- Cut down on the caffeine – It increases muscle contractions, which means that those back cramps and spasms could be caused by your daily cup of Joe.
- Count on calcium – Calcium helps you fight off arthritis and osteoarthritis, two causes of debilitating pain. Processed foods, alcohol, sugar, sodium and tobacco, deplete calcium. Thus, get enough calcium and avoid consuming too much of the foods that deplete it!
- So long, sweeteners – Too much sugar increases the rate at which you excrete calcium, and also can irritate the digestive system and cause back pain.
- Beware of any ingredient that ends in –ose – These are sugars, and prepared foods and condiments are loaded with them.
Solving Nutrition-Induced Back Pain
If you score on my digestive assessment suggest you have nutrition-related back pain, my two-week plan could help cleanse your system and will help you eliminate certain toxins from your system. And, it will make a difference in the way your body functions and how you feel, both in your back and throughout the rest of your body.
Finally, I recommend you start with an input/output journal to help you identify the following:
- Where do you have repetition in your diet
- Which foods create digestive upsets?
- The time of your meals and snacks
- The factors that affect your consumption and elimination, such as travel, illness, or special events.