What you Eat Matters

Research has shown that a well-balanced diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play a major role for back health. Particularly, anti-inflammatory diets (i.e., Mediterranean Diet) helps reduce body and spine inflammation and can reduce chronic back pain.

Food that promotes inflammation in the body that you should avoid include saturated fats and trans fats (red meat, whole fat dairy, hydrogenated oils) Omega 6 foods (corn oil, safflower oil), sugar (table sugar, simple carbs).

Foods that are anti-inflammatory include Omega 3’s (canola oil, walnuts, fish), Monounsaturated fats (olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocados), Fruits and vegetables (whole grain and colorful) herbs, spices, and teas (ginger, turmeric, sage, cinnamon, rosemary, green tea).

Think of ‘eating the rainbow.’ These foods have a robust color and are high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Staying hydrated

Water and optimal hydration are critically important for preventing and treating back pain as well.

  • Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half, this is how many ounces of water you need to drink per day.
  • Half of your daily fluids should be water.
  • Drink 10 more ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise.
  • Try drinking a glass of water before each meal.

Nutrients that support a healthy spine

Five nutrients that play an important role in spine health include:

  • Calcium – It is essential for bone health and bone mass. Calcium is found in yogurt, cheese, milk, green leafy vegetables, almonds, and oranges.
  • Magnesium – Helps relax muscles and plays a role in bone heath. It may be found in green leafy vegetables, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, and bananas.
  • Vitamin D3 – Helps absorb calcium and can be found in fatty fish like salmon and egg yolks.
  • Vitamin K2 – Helps distribute calcium out of soft tissues into bone. It can be found in meats, cheeses, and egg yolks.
  • Vitamin C – Necessary for collagen formation and allows for proper healing of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the disc. It is found in strawberries, citrus fruits and kiwi, as well as vegetable like tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers and sweet potatoes.

While dietary changes may not eliminate inflammation and chronic back pain, incorporating these changes are still beneficial to help manage and prevent discomfort.

David J. BenEliyahu, DC, FICC
Administrative Director, Back Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital