10 Foods that Reduce Back Pain
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Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin 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.
Feel that peppery tingle in the back of your throat? That's a compound called oleocanthal, and it works like ibuprofen. Extra-virgin olive oil also has lubricin, which keeps joints sliding smoothly and protects cartilage from breaking down. It might help people with osteoarthritis. Stick to lower temperatures (less than 410 degrees) when you cook with olive oil so you don't lose any of its many benefits.
Milk, Yogurt, And Cheese
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.
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?
Loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, salmon makes just about all of the "good for you" lists. It's considered heart-healthy and may relieve joint tenderness if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Other varieties of cold-water fish, including tuna, sardines, and mackerel, are good choices, too. Avoid tilapia and catfish, though: Their higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids may promote inflammation.
Ginger contains extremely powerful anti-inflammatories called gingerols, 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.
A staple of traditional medicine, this pungent root is probably best known for its anti-nausea, stomach-soothing properties. But ginger can also fight pain, including aching joints from arthritis as well as menstrual cramps. One study found ginger capsules worked as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen at relieving period pain.
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.
The compound in the spice that gives curry its bright orange-yellow color can affect several processes in your body, including inflammation. Studies of people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis who took supplements of curcumin found they could walk better and without the side effects of taking drugs. Black pepper can help your body absorb it, so try a blend of the spices, steeped with ginger and honey into a tea.
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.
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.
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.