Back To Health Wellness's Thought For The Day

Pro Inflammatory Foods and Its Role in Chronic Back Pain

September 14, 2023 Back To Health Wellness Season 1 Episode 31
Back To Health Wellness's Thought For The Day
Pro Inflammatory Foods and Its Role in Chronic Back Pain
Show Notes

Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing: Acute inflammation is actually an important immune response that helps heal injuries or fight illnesses.

 But according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. chronic inflammation, which is inflammation that occurs in healthy tissues or inflammation that lasts for months or even years — can cause significant damage and contribute to many chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

So what impact does food have on back pain? 

A study in 2019, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES) involving nearly 4000 subjects, concluded in their study in, that there was a 42 percent higher chance of developing low back pain with a pro-inflammatory diet.

So with this significant stat in mind, what are the pro inflammatory types to avoid? 

Here are 5 that are worth a mention

1. Processed and Sugary Foods - These typically include sugary snacks, sugary beverages, white bread, and other refined carbohydrates.

2. Trans Fats- Found in many processed and fried foods, like chips and crisps. trans fats can promote inflammation and are linked to heart disease. Avoid trans fats where possible. If difficult, compromise and substitute fried, with a baked option. 

3. Dairy Products- Some people are sensitive to dairy, and consuming it may trigger inflammation or digestive issues. This can vary from person to person. Though a difficult one to go without, Thankfully now there are many different options like almond and oat milk substitutes, not to mention vegan cheese, which can help to fill the void.

4. A big one, Gluten. gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Some individuals have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, which can cause inflammation when gluten is consumed.


Signs and symptoms that suggest you may be intolerant to gluten, include bloating and farting (flatulence) and particularly Diarrhoea.


Though Gluten free products are a viable option, they are not my personal choice. So when the temptation for bread or pasta arises, I replace them with Brown rice, which i believe is a great alternative and best of all, it is gluten free.

5. Red Meat- overconsumption of beef, lamb and pork may contribute significantly to inflammation. Therefore, If difficult to cut out, simply try and swap red for white, like chicken or turkey, or even better - tofu, which is a meaty- plant rich compound which has an anti inflammatory effect and has health benefits. 

So, In the management of chronic back pain, A diet rich in antioxidants can protect muscle tissues from damage, by preventing unwanted inflammatory responses occurring in the first place. 

Recent research has discovered the role of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant which can inhibit regulatory enzymes, which is important for controlling mediators involved in inflammation. 

Flavonoid-rich foods, or superfoods as I call them include 

  • all plant origin foods mainly tea, fruit like  blueberries, vegetables like spinach, grains, legumes, nuts, wine and a personal favourite of mine, dark chocolate. 

Dark chocolate is know to contains high levels of flavonoids. A study published in The Lancet, which is a medical science journal, showed that dark chocolate contained four times as much catechin (ca-te-chin), which is a type of flavonoid, as tea. 

Final thoughts 

Of course are many mechanical causes of chronic back pain such as arthritis and disc problems, that can be prevented from further advancing and managed well through treatment and exercise, though one must be aware of the potential effect food can have on their symptoms. 

It is easy to overlook as there may not be a