Did you ever think that the foods you eat could make an impact on the health of your back? Probably not. But this is a reality, and even if you don’t experience back pain now, your diet could play a role in your back health down the line. So, the question you are probably asking right now is “how can what I eat affect my back?” What you eat impacts your entire body from head to toe. So if your diet is not ideal, it can affect you in many ways.

You would most commonly hear conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. related to an unhealthy diet. But the truth of the matter is that everyone is unique in how their body processes foods and it may affect one person with diabetes, or another person with an autoimmune disorder. When you eat foods that increase inflammation in the body, this can cause a cascade of events that starts in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Over a period of time the lining of your stomach and intestines can become irritated by consuming inflammatory foods such as dairy, gluten and sugar. This can start to alter the chemical composition of your blood and fluids causing a more acidic environment. Once your blood reaches a certain pH level, the fluids that surround all the tissues in your body become irritated. You have a vast amount of nerves that surround the GI system and these nerves all communicate with each other. If one of these nerves become irritated from the change of pH levels, it will send signals out to the nerves that are connected to it and will also irritate those nerves. The nerves that surround the GI tract can affect the nerves anywhere from the upper mid-back (T5) all the way down to the sacrum. It will often be noted that a group of muscles along the spine on one side will be irritated and look inflamed or hypertonic (increased tone).

This is what we call a viscero-somatic reflex. This wouldn’t happen over night but over a long period of time. Think about when you have been sick with the stomach flu. Did you experience intense back pain with it? Most likely the answer is yes. That would be an acute case of irritation, but again over a long period of time, with the wrong foods being ingested, it can cause a similar reaction. So your next question probably is, “what foods should I avoid?” The big three are dairy, gluten and processed sugar. This might seem difficult at first but removing one bad food at a time is the best way to start.

If you want to learn more, I will be hosting a workshop on June 22nd “Take out the DoGS (Dairy, Gluten and Sugar). You will learn how to make healthy and delicious recipes without the DoGs. You will also be able to sample all the dishes that will be cooked. For more information, please contact me at mindy@synergistix.ca.

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How Your Diet Can be Contributing to Low Back Pain