COFFEE AND CERTAIN FOODS – CAN THEY CAUSE YOUR BACK PAIN?…

Have you ever wondered if the coffee you grab in the morning or something you have eaten is contributing to your back pain?

We all know there are certain foods that you can eat that either hurt or help inflammation in your body, which may contribute to back pain. Foods like junk food, fast food, red meats, fried foods, pastries, and cakes are of course not good for you. They say that it’s the trans fat, saturated fats, and high glycemic index that can irritate inflammation and make your back pain worse.

On the other end of the spectrum there are foods like walnuts, blueberries, salmon, cod, and other fruits which are extremely good for your health. These foods are filled with Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin D. All of these foods are great for you for a lot of different reasons, but when it comes to your back, these all help to reduce inflammation which takes pressure off of your spinal nerves and relieves back pain.

There are some coffees which are extremely sugary, high-calorie coffees that you can get at coffee shop chains. These types of coffees have high glycemic indices and many of them contain a high amount of saturated fats in them and are definitely not good for your inflammation and your back pain.

But what about straight black coffee without all the sugar. Well, apparently black coffee is a lot better for you and it doesn’t really have the “not good for you” ingredients. But it also doesn’t have any of the good ingredients either.

Coffee has caffeine in it, and caffeine can actually elevate levels of anxiety that you experience. This is why people that get the jitters from too much coffee seem a little jumpier than normal. The coffee is putting them on edge and sending their bodies into the fight or flight condition and when you are in fight or flight, your muscles are a bit more tense than normal, mostly to prepare you for a quick escape.

Consequently, if you have back pain, this isn’t good news. Even a little bit of muscle tension can cause your piriformis or psoas muscle to irritate your sciatic nerve and cause back pain.

So, although there probably isn’t much real danger in drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, it can contribute to back pain issues.

According to Elle, Nutrition is one part of a three-pronged approach that Dr. Todd Sinett, chiropractor, certified trainer, and author of the recent book  3 Weeks to a Better Back, uses to tackle back pain. His method also examines these ailments structurally (muscle and bones) and emotionally (everyday stress), but diet is definitely the piece of the puzzle that barely anyone considers.

Dr. Sinett says you can’t pinpoint what back pain caused by diet feels like, exactly–it could range from severe lower back pain to a chronic aching neck. He notes that the science connecting diet and back pain applies to all levels of discomfort, concluding that eating a large amount of inflammatory food (more on that below) can cause muscles to contract without relaxing. If that persists over a long period of time, it can cause back spasms and irritation. Major dietary causes of back pain, he says, include excessive caffeine, alcohol, and sugar–all things that increase cortisol levels. When there’s excess cortisol in the body, connective tissue can get inflamed, causing pain. 

Other stress-causing, cortisol-promoting eating habits include skipping meals, eating large portions, or limiting yourself to a restrictive diet over a long period. You’re not off the hook if all you eat are salads every day, either, since that “roughage,” as Sinett calls it, “causes your digestive tract to go into overdrive very quickly” and triggers the muscular system, too. One way to fix that is by varying the kinds of food you eat day to day and breaking away from routine. Sinett himself used to eat high-fiber oatmeal every morning before developing bloating, stomach pain, and eventually a stiff neck. 

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5 FOODS THAT HELP FIGHT PAIN…

Chronic pain is debilitating and affects every aspect of daily life. Advances have been made in the search for effective pain relief in the drug industry, but unfortunately, many of the pain relieving drugs cause problematic side effects.

Whilst our diet is not first on our list of considerations when suffering from pain, there are many surprising properties of certain foods that can help to reduce pain and inflammation. In fact, it is fair to say that there are foods that harm and foods that heal.

Although painkillers are useful for masking pain, they don’t actually treat the cause. A lot of pain is untreatable and is only manageable at best, but certain foods have healing properties that work from within the body. For example, certain foods help to reduce joint inflammation, which will ultimately reduce joint pain.

When suffering from illnesses that cause chronic pain we seem to make many frequent rips between GP surgeries and Chemists. The internet has opened up the provision of a simple online pharmacy which will soon have the option of processing NHS prescriptions.

This article aims to highlight how food has an effect on our body in the management of pain.

Maintain a healthy weight

This is easier said than done when chronic pain is preventing you from exercising regularly. However, it is important to try and remain within a healthy weight range, so that less strain is put on your body’s musculoskeletal system.

Try to eat a healthy well-balanced diet that contains sufficient nutrients from all the food groups ie proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. Try to view your food as fuel and learn to match your intake with your activity levels. Whole Grains and protein are helpful in keeping you fuller for longer, therefore reducing the urge to overeat.

Nutrition for pain

A well-balanced diet is important for all, however, there are certain foods that will help with your battle in reducing the amount of pain your body experiences. Diet for people with pain mainly involves avoiding certain foods and including others. Some foods trigger inflammatory responses and increase a person’s sensitivity to pain, whereas other foods can help fight pain.

It would be useful for pain sufferers to study how their diet can help to reduce pain. Be aware that individual responses differ and foods that trigger pain in some people may not in others.

Maybe it would be a good idea to keep a food diary and monitor your pain levels according to what you eat.

Foods to avoid

Certain foods are proven to increase a person’s sensitivity to pain and they are best reduced or avoided altogether. Many chronic pain stems from digestive issues and certain foods aggravate digestion.

Overly processed foods such as take away “junk” foods and ready meals often contain preservatives that can trigger an inflammatory response in the digestive system causing pain. If you are sensitive to gluten and yeast it is best to avoid baked goods containing wheat and raising agents, your whole body can be affected.

Caffeine is a stimulant which may be a tempting option if you feel that you need something to get you up in a morning, however, too much caffeine can have a counterproductive effect, causing irritation of the digestive system.

Try to avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners. They affect energy levels and cause “sugar rushes” followed by “sugar dips” which can make you feel exhausted and light headed.

Foods to include

Ginger

This popular spicy root is known for its anti sickness properties. Pregnant women are often advised to include ginger in their diets in order to ward off morning sickness. Ginger is a fantastic stomach soother it also acts in a similar way to aspirin on the body, meaning that it has pain killing properties. Migraine sufferers often report success with including ginger in their diet. It is also effective for people who suffer from arthritis pain.

Ginger can be used in many ways, both savoury or sweet dishes can be spiced up with a little ginger. Try to use ginger from the root for the best effect. It can be grated into just about any food and is a lovely warming drink when mixed with honey.

Oily fish

Oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are packed with omega 3. Omega 3 can be helpful in reducing back and neck pain, it helps blood flow to the spinal area which is crucial to preventing degenerative spinal conditions affecting the discs. For omega 3 to be truly effective you may need to consider taking a supplement to ensure you get a high enough dose. Omega 3 is also fantastic for maintaining healthy brain function and also lifts the mood.

Turmeric

Turmeric has featured in many news articles recently regarding health as people are starting to realise the health benefits of including turmeric in your diet. Turmeric has anti inflammatory properties and protects the body from tissue and joint degeneration. Turmeric can be added to the diet by sprinkling it into most foods. Research has shown that combining turmeric with black pepper enhances the health properties of turmeric even more.   I am a massive advocate of tumeric and have written posts on how fantastic this is for anti-inflammatory help. 

Cherries

Cherries contain anthocyanins which are compounds with excellent antioxidant properties. They reduce inflammation, which lowers pain and they also act in a similar way to painkillers such as aspirin as they actually block the enzymes within the body that cause pain. Many athletes recognise the pain lowering properties of cherries and eat them in large amounts prior to racing. Athletes who eat cherries have been found to suffer less muscle pain following a race than those who don’t.

Mint

Mint is such a humble and freely available herb, it is easy to overlook the health properties it has. Mint is wonderful for soothing stomach pain and digestive spasms. It is also an excellent headache soother. Mint can be added to food, made into a tea or infused into oils that can be directly applied to the skin.

These are just a small selection of foods with healing properties when used to reduce pain, there are many more. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet on a daily basis and hopefully they will help lessen pain.