Back pain is a common problem that most adults face at some point in their lives. Though it’s temporary for some, others deal with long-term issues. Lower back pain hits about 25% of American adults in any given three-month period.
Chronic back pain, lasting longer than three months, may involve chronic inflammation. Nerves, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue can stay inflamed, contributing to ongoing pain that begins to interfere with daily life.
Dr. James Nassiri of Westside Pain Specialists helps his patients deal with chronic pain in all varieties, and he points to diet as a powerful ally against the effects of lingering inflammation. The foods you eat can help — or hurt — inflammatory activity in your body. You may be able to eat your way to a pain-free back.
The role of inflammation
Inflammation is a natural body response to injury. In fact, it’s a critical part of the healing process. Inflammation helps your body fight infection or regrow tissue to fix damage. In that role, it’s an important contributor to your health.
However, inflammation is a guest that can overstay its welcome. Chronic inflammation starts to harm your health, contributing to joint deterioration, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Diet and the immune system
“You are what you eat,” the saying goes, and it’s certainly true when it comes to the activity of your immune system and inflammation too, further down the line. Choosing foods that support immune system function delivers health benefits across the board.
Unhealthy foods cause the immune system to react as though you have an active infection. Instead of protecting you from pathogens, your body wastes resources protecting you from the foods you eat.
It comes down to the presence or absence of a range of micronutrients in your body. In particular, a class of antioxidants called polyphenols have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and they’re easy to acquire through your diet.
While you won’t suffer from a lack of polyphenols the way you might with some vitamins and minerals, you won’t enjoy the risk-reducing benefits they provide.
While you can add polyphenols through dietary supplements, eating a range of fresh and delicious foods provides a direct and natural source. Consider these eight groups for their antioxidant value:
Chokeberries and elderberries have the highest polyphenol content, followed by blueberries, black currants, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Dark chocolate is a good source of polyphenols, while milk chocolate has very little.
Usually used for their fiber boost, flaxseeds provide polyphenols too.
Herbs and spices
As well as making your foods tasty, things like oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, cloves, and peppermint add polyphenols too.
In moderate quantities, nuts are full of nutrition including polyphenols, fiber, and protein.
Most vegetables have some level of polyphenol content, with the superstars being artichokes, red onions, and spinach.
Black olives are richer in polyphenols than green, but both are excellent contributors.
Tea and coffee
You can start your day knowing you’re contributing to your future good health.
Adding these good habits to your diet helps with the long-term anti-inflammatory picture. Having a handful of nuts now probably won’t clear up your back pain by dinnertime.
As you wait for the effects of healthy eating to contribute to a back pain solution, visit Westside Pain Specialists in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California, for immediate pain management. Call the nearest office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Nassiri.