Is Your Diet Responsible For Your Back Pain?
When people come to me for help with back pain, they often frown or question why I'm asking them about their diet. After all it doesn't seem like something you would take into consideration when considering the reasons as to why you're having back trouble.
The truth is that there can be numerous reasons people suffer from a bad back and we are not going to go into detail here. Suffice to say that your back can hurt for reasons varying from acutely injuring it (having a fall for example), to stress, diet, poor posture, incorrect lifting technique, and many others. Today I just want to briefly explain what effect our diet can have on our back health.
As the saying goes 'man's (and woman's) best medicine is his diet'. Never a truer word spoken. A poor diet causes so much disruption and disturbance in your body and mind we could write an entire book on it. From the standpoint of your core (muscles around the trunk associated with stabilising the body during gross movements), a poor diet can cause havoc leading to back pain. Why is this?
Well the core muscles function in part to stabilise their opposing muscles (known as antagonists). For example the abdominal muscles prevent excessive extension (backward bending) of the spine, just as the low back muscles prevent excessive flexion (bending forward) of the trunk. If the ability of these muscles to do their job is in some compromised you've got a problem. Consider how close to the digestive organs the core muscles are. Very close. If you're living on a diet of processed junk food, or even if you are eating ok food which is not right for you Primal Pattern type, your body is going to react badly. If these poor dietary habits have been going on for some time, then conditions like Leaky Gut Syndrome, IBS, Dysbiosis, Malabsorption Syndrome and others will be causing inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract. Any inflammation (swelling of the tissues) is going to cause inhibition in surrounding muscles.
In other words, poor eating habits cause damage to the GI tract, which in turn leads to inflammation, which in turn leads to inhibition in core musculature, which basically means that they can't do their job effectively. If your anterior core muscles can't stabilise when they need to, guess who's going to be suffering from undiagnosed low back pain all the time.
Here's another consideration. Let's suppose you know that your anterior core isn't great and you try to improve it with exercise, but don't address your eating habits. All those planks, crunches, Russian twists etc aint going to do you any good. You are trying to work muscles that don't fire, so all you are going to get is substitution and possibly problems you didn't have before.
If you've got ongoing back issues and no real understanding of what is causing it, check your diet. This is actually the first thing I look at unless the condition is already diagnosed.
There are numerous things you can do to improve your eating habits which I'll list briefly here, but also be writing an extensive follow up blog.
Eat organic food. Be sure to include a diverse range if foods including herbs and spices such as Curcumin and Turmeric, Ginger, and Garlic. Be sure to check out this great article on the benefits of turmeric in relieving back pain.
2. Calculate your Primal Pattern Type. A qualified CHEK practitioner can help you with this, or if you want to go into Metabolic Typing a little deeper, pick up a copy of The Metabolic Typing Diet by William Woolcott and Trish Fahey. We are all different so understanding the correct diet that works for you is essential if you want to achieve robust good health.
3. Get tested. It's a good idea for you or your practitioner to get you tested if your symptoms are quite noticeable and have persisted for some time. Such symptoms would be bloating or abdominal cramping or pain, constipation or loose stools, irregular toilet habits, regular gas/wind and belching, acid reflux, near insatiable appetite etc. I company I have used in the past is www.healthpath.com
4. Stop eating junk. I'll keep this short. Processed food is garbage, and regular store bought food and commercially farmed produce typically does your body more harm than good. Organic food isn't special, it's just normal.
5. Check your alcohol intake. The body's optimal intake of alcohol is....zero. Yes I know you didn't want to hear that but it's true. The body doesn't need it or want it and it causes stress to your liver.
6. Do not eat while stressed. The stress response causes digestion to shut down. Make your eating a peaceful and calm practice preferably without disturbances.
7. Eat slowly, chew your food into a liquid before swallowing, and don't drink too much while eating. Fluid can cause the hydrochloric acid in the gut to become more diluted making it less effective in breaking down foods.
8. Do not eat right before going to bed.
Thanks for reading! I hope this article was of some use and if you'd like some help achieving your health goals be sure to check out my 12 week online programme for weight loss, stress reduction, and improved energy and health. See you soon!