Chronic back pain is a royal pain in the butt — or, back, I guess. Despite the fact that it's a more invisible type of struggle to deal with, back pain can completely derail your life, keeping you from physical exercise that makes you feel good from head to toe, from spending time with the people you love, or even from getting a good night's sleep. Believe it or not though, there are actually plenty of foods that reduce back pain, and if you could solve your problems by eating some delicious foods, why wouldn't you?
When you think about using nutrition as a holistic, pain-fighting strategy, there's one main guideline that'll help make things as simple as possible: focus on anti-inflammatories. Countless foods, especially vegetables and fruit, are full of anti-inflammatory properties, which work to hit the sweet spot and reduce swelling. This, in turn, will help reduce your back pain, or any chronic pain you're having, for that matter.
Most of the foods that help fight chronic back pain could be easily assimilated into any diet, even if you're kind of a picky eater. In fact, I'm willing to bet you probably already have at least a few of these 10 foods lying around in your pantry or refrigerator, but you never knew until now that they could help with your back pain. Eat up, girl.
Tons of veggies have anti-inflammatory properties, but in general, the greener the vegetable, the better off you — and your back — will be.
A kale salad is an easy way to throw some green into your life, or if you're like me and can't stand the way kale tastes, throw a handful into a smoothie. That way, you can reap the benefits and pretend you never ate it in the first place.
Olive oil has several proven health benefits, including its anti-inflammatory capabilities, and the fact that it's filled with antioxidants, one of which is something called oleocanthal, a chemical that's basically been shown to work like ibuprofen for pain in the body.
All you have to do is drink a cup or two of olive oil a day to reap the benefits! Just kidding. A drizzle onto your salad or your frying pan before you cook something will do the trick.
3Milk, Cheese, And Yogurt
In addition to looking for foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, you should also make sure your diet is filled with calcium to maintain and strengthen your bone mass. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are all excellent sources of calcium.
If you're vegan or vegetarian, you can still get your calcium from soy milk, tofu, or orange juice.
Ginger is the superfood to end all superfoods. It contains extremely powerful anti-inflammatories called gingerols (they clearly didn't work too hard on the name there, did they?), which have been proven to significantly reduce pain in arthritic individuals.
This is, in my opinion, an excellent reason to go out for sushi at least three to five times a week.
Salmon is packed with the omega 3 fatty acid, a healthy fat known to help those living with chronic pain. This tasty fish also has calcitonin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in joints.
OK seriously, who wants to go get sushi with me?
Turmeric is a spice that's so popular, it practically has a cult following — and for good reason. The main active ingredient within turmeric is curcumin, which is an incredibly powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Try this turmeric carrot ginger smoothie from The Minimalist Baker. Blend together a banana, some ginger, pineapple, turmeric, lemon, and carrot. Enjoy the color, then the taste.
And remember, when in doubt — say it with me now — throw it in a smoothie, and toss that sh*t back.
Caffeine addicts, rejoice: Coffee contains anti-inflammatories such as polyphenols that work to reduce pain.
If you're like me, then coffee also has a magical tendency to make you feel like you're flying through the air with unicorn wings, which may help distract you from any pain you're feeling in the first place. Consider a cup (or two, or seven) a day to keep your back pain at bay.
Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and brazil nuts are all excellent nut options if you're looking for solid sources of anti-inflammatories.
I'm personally not a big fan of nuts, but I do actually crush walnuts and blend them into my smoothies in the morning. It helps build texture, and it's a great way to trick my body into eating something healthy that I don't normally like. (If you haven't noticed, my main strategy for sneaking food into my system is blending it into a juice and throwing it back. I highly, highly recommend it.)
Red grapes contain an anti-inflammatory called resveratrol, a compound also found in other berries and peanuts (but apparently not in green grapes), which has been found to fight pain.
Fun fact: Research has shown that combining resveratrol with turmeric enhances the overall anti-inflammatory benefits, although admittedly, it might force you to get a little more creative with your recipe ideas.
Thyme is an herb that will work a little differently to help you deal with chronic pain. Although scientists don't fully understand how it works, thyme can essentially reduce your perception of pain, acting as a natural painkiller.
Plus, it'll really elevate your dinner party game, so you can trick your friends into thinking you watch Food Network all day for the culinary tips, and not because your back hurts too much to do anything else.