If you work at a desk job you know back pain is inevitable (which is currently ‘sitting’ at around 50% of Australians…pardon the pun)! Sitting for long periods strains our shoulders, backs, and necks, and while standing and desks or yoga balls have become popular solutions, there’s a whole other MAJOR contributing factor we need to pay attention to: what we’re eating.
Nutrition is one part of a ‘three-legged stool’ approach at Open Space Healing. We like to look at the individual as a whole and examine them structurally (muscle and bones), emotionally (everyday stress and past trauma), and…biochemically (internal body chemistry…which is massively affected by your diet)! This is a critical piece of the puzzle that not many consider!
OK, OK (we know what you are thinking)…so before you decide to not read this blog have a think about these stats…
Back pain is unfortunately a common condition. Estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014–15 National Health Survey show about 3.7 million Australians (16% of the population) have back problems. It is estimated that 70–90% of people will suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives.
The cost of pain treatments has more than doubled since 2009, and the cost of pain medications has also increased by 53 per cent in same period.
If you live with chronic pain, your life is really difficult on every front, financially, emotionally, socially; often people are quite isolated because of chronic pain.
If you are no longer able to work (as a result of pain) this has massive personal and social implications. Lots of people will turn to the quick fix – drugs, which have all sorts of side effects.
Taking heavy duty painkillers increases the potential for accidental overdoses, which is on the rise in Australia.
A report, released by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in 2017 revealed the rate of accidental opioid deaths has more than doubled among Australians aged 35 to 44 since 2007.
With one-in-five Australians living with chronic pain, this is a huge problem for our current population that needs to be addressed now!
OK! So after those cold hard ‘doom and gloom’ facts…what can you do about it today…that is FREE and EASY!? Enter…what you put into your mouth (AKA diet)!
Drum roll please…
Our top 4 foods contributing to your BACK PAIN INCLUDE:
How do these foods cause back pain?
We know that a vast majority of pain is due to inflammation within the body. When we say inflammation – think swollen rolled ankle…but inside your cells!
Generally speaking, for the majority of people, these are the main 4 foods that will increase your histamine and cortisol levels in the body, therefore placing stress on many systems, including but not limited to your musculoskeletal, immune and digestive systems. Over time, this will ultimately create systemic inflammation in your body!
Histamine is created by your mast cells and typically helps protect against infection. During an allergic reaction (note: this isn’t necessarily an obvious reaction, more of a subtle internal chemical change for a lot of people and can be delayed by up to 5 days) the amount of histamine created causes inflammation and swelling in soft tissues. This results in excessive pressure places in soft tissues throughout your body. The pain experienced in your back are caused by pressure that builds up in your inflamed muscles in those parts of the body.
So what’s wrong with dairy? Many people suffer with a mild allergy to dairy, this has a lot to do with the fact that it is designed to be consumed by another species! Your immune system overreacts to the proteins (casein) found in milk. The overreaction causes the body to defend itself and treat the dairy proteins as invaders. This mistake triggers the production of immunoglobulin E antibodies, also called IgE antibodies. These antibodies trigger other chemicals, such as histamine to be released into the body.
Why is gluten bad? This is a whole other blog! However to keep it simple Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, barley and rye. Many people (with or without) celiac disease have an immune reaction that is triggered by eating gluten. They develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tracts and other parts of the body when they eat foods containing gluten.
Cortisol is the main stress hormone in your body. There are certain substances that increase cortisol (such as caffeine and sugar), therefore creating a chain reaction in the body. Some symptoms include: hunched posture, tight shoulder muscles, decreased gut, immune and reproductive function, sensitivity to light and sound, shortness of breath and anxiety – basically feeling ‘tired and wired’.
If that persists over a long period of time, it can cause back spasms and irritation. 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.
If your digestive function is compromised, which is commonly related to high cortisol levels, then likely symptoms include bloating, gas and diarrhea. Gas pains can extend from the front of your abdomen into your back, causes sharp pains that come and go.
Unfortunately it is difficult to determine what back pain caused by diet feels like, as it is subjective. It could range from severe lower back pain to a chronic aching neck.
How do you eliminate these foods?
We know that this is no mean feat! And we definitely do not expect our clients to go ‘cold-turkey’!
Firstly you need to make the decision that you want to elevate your health and are committed to this process. If the WHY is big enough then the rest is ‘easy’! We highly recommend to write your ‘WHY’ down on paper and place it in a spot you see everyday. Have fun with it and play around.
Slowly start to reduce the amount of these foods that you are consuming – ie. If you usually have at least a couple of coffees every day, then reduce it down to 1 and day for a while, then alternate days, then switch to chai or green tea, then herbal. Cut out the sugary drinks (especially the diet ones! – another blog on this soon).
Be gentle and kind with yourself. Think of it as not restricting yourself – rather that you are making different choices. Replace the bad habit with a better one!
When you feel ready, try a full elimination diet for three weeks, this is an effective time period to see a response and “clean out your system.” Usually when people feel the benefits of living this way they don’t want to stop…however this is completely your decision.
You may experience some detox symptoms for the first week which your body is accommodating. Get plenty of rest, drink at least 1 liter of water for every 22kgs of body weight and do some light exercise to get a sweat up!
Then notice and enjoy the changes in your body…and mind!
Yours in great health,
Dr Andy & Dr Jacinta