3 foods and ingredients that can worsen your back pain

Do you suffer from back pain? What you eat can make the pain worse.
Do you suffer from back pain? What you eat can make the pain worse.

Backache is one of the most common types of chronic pain, and can seriously compromise your quality of life. But staying committed to a healthy, nutritional diet, among other things, can relieve the pain and make one feel a lot better. 


There’s a good and bad side to inflammation. It plays a positive role in injuries and infections by signalling the immune system to repair injuries and fight off infections. However, an immune system that is out of balance causes inflammation to run rampant. Chronic inflammation has been linked to several diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and can also lead to backache.

A healthy digestive system can ensure a good muscular system, and anything that affects your digestion can also affect your muscles. Many foods have been shown to affect inflammation, a common cause of back pain. In short, therefore, foods and ingredients that trigger inflammation should be eliminated or limited in your diet. These include: 

1. Preservatives

In order to extend the shelf life of many foods, additives and preservative are added. These can trigger an immune response which can affect the joints in your back, leading to back pain. Look out for foods that contain carboxyl, parabens, cellulose, benzoic acid and potassium sorbate – all have been found to have an inflammatory effect on the body. 

2. Sugar

Sugar is one of the biggest culprits of inflammation, but one of the hardest to cut down on. (Note that this doesn’t apply to natural sugars found in dairy and fruit.) Sugar in your diet can create inflammation both directly and indirectly. High levels of sugar can for example boost insulin levels – and chronically high insulin leads to inflammation. 

If your eat foods that are high in sugar every day you’re keeping your sugar and insulin chronically high, leaving your joints subject to constant inflammation. Reducing your sugar intake may be challenging at first, but will greatly benefit you in the long-run.

3. Red meat

Red meat, burgers and popular processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and bacon are associated with high inflammation and should be avoided if you suffer from back pain. Red meat contains a sugar called Neu5GC, which promotes inflammation. It would be sensible to reduce your intake of these foods in order to reduce inflammation and subsequent pain.    

Eating healthily is not that difficult. Reduce your consumption of the above meat products and rather concentrate on unprocessed foods that are high in antioxidants and healthy fats, such as:

  • Fruits, especially all types of berries
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables 
  • Nuts, grains and legumes
  • Omega-3 foods, such as fish and flaxseed

Try keeping a diary of everything you eat, and track your level of back pain based on that. Once you get into the swing of healthy eating, you could start feeling a noticeable difference in your level of back pain.

Keep in mind that people with the least amount of back pain are the ones who exercise regularly, maintain a healthy body weight and follow a proper diet.

Image: iStock

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