Diet Diaries: What to Eat to Ease Back Pain

The American Spinal Decompression Association reports that approximately 75-85 percent of Americans will experience some type of back pain during their lives, and approximately half of all those who develop the condition will have another episode in less than a year. If you've ever suffered from back pain, you probably know how debilitating it can be. By transforming your diet you may be able to prevent it from diminishing the quality of your life.

Find Relief in What You Eat

According to an article written by Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D. at, relief from chronic pain may be found from ordinary foods. He writes that the strongest connection between diet and pain has involved back pain research. Poor diet may ultimately result in the blockage of lumbar arteries, cutting off oxygen and nutrients the spine needs which causes degeneration of the discs.

While there is no one food that can magically take away your pain, by limiting or eliminating highly processed foods and refined carbs while focusing on whole foods from the earth, you may be able to accomplish that feat, according to Dr. Peter Abaci, the medical director of a California pain and wellness center.

Find the Best Combination

Combining a nutritious diet with regular physical activity as well as stretches or yoga poses that support spine health, may be the best recipe for preventing or easing back pain. By visiting, research articles can be found specifically addressing activities that can help ease back pain and strengthen the spine.

In addition, consider these foods in particular as part of a great strategy for battling back pain.

Foods Rich in Omega-3s

A 2006 study revealed that participants who were suffering from nonsurgical neck or back pain found pain relief from taking omega-3 EFA fish oil supplements. They were reported to be as effective as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Omega-3s have the ability to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, therefore eating foods that are rich in this substance, such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, walnuts and almonds, can help.


Research out of Michigan State University found that anthocyanins, the compound responsible for providing cherries with their rich red color, could be more potent for relieving pain than aspirin and other medications. Anthocynanins are known to block inflammation, with one study revealing that those who ate a bowl of cherries for breakfast were able to reduce inflammation by as much as 25 percent.

Photo by Julie Danielle via Flickr


Well-known television personality and renowned physician, Dr. Oz, says that papaya is an important food for fighting pain. It contains an enzyme known as papain that he says is so powerful, doctors have been using it in injections specifically to help people suffering from back pain. Dr. Oz highlights the importance of not just taking a supplement, but eating the fruit in order to receive all of the antioxidants that are found in its flesh which are known to reduce pain.

Photo by ninacoco via Flickr

Calcium-rich Foods

The Cleveland Clinic highlights the importance of keeping your back bones strong to prevent osteoporosis as well as to prevent or manage back pain. You don't have to eat dairy - calcium-fortified foods like soy milk or orange juice as well as other foods that are naturally high in the mineral such as collard greens, kale and canned sardines will also help you meet your body's calcium needs.

Photo of Kale salad by Connoisseur 4 The Cure via Flickr

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.