Food and drinks on a table

Does what you eat and drink play a part in back and neck pain?

We’re all mindful that the choices we make when eating and drinking can affect our health. Less ice cream and doughnuts, more broccoli and wholegrain pasta!

However, did you know that the food and drink we consume could make our neck and back pain worse?

Here’s the lowdown:

Weight gain = Pressure on the spine

Over-indulging in unhealthy, processed foods can lead to weight gain, which is linked to back and neck pain.

Extra weight can pull our spine out of a neutral position, meaning poorer posture, increased pressure on our joints, and compressed spinal discs.

A poor diet = Inflammation

Some foods like sugar, fried foods, dairy, and processed meats can cause chronic inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is a natural response by our immune system, which helps flush viruses and bacteria out of the body. However, chronic inflammation sometimes occurs when no viruses or bacteria are there to trigger it. Chronic inflammation is triggered by a poor-quality diet and can lead to symptoms including, but not limited to, back and neck pain.

Studies have shown that an inflammatory diet can mean you’re 42% more likely to experience lower back pain.

Alcohol = Dehydration

Finally, dehydration can result in back and neck pain.

When we don’t drink as much water as we should, or drink things that dehydrate us, like alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks, our muscles don’t contract as efficiently. This leads to pain and stiffness.

Our top tips for reducing back and neck pain

Eating healthily can sometimes feel like a chore. However, if you’re struggling with back and neck pain, it can be one of the easiest ways to see improvements.

Here’s how to stop those aches and pains from getting worse:

  • Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. If plain water is too boring, try squash, coconut water, or a slice of lemon!
  • Drink tea, coffee, or caffeinated drinks in moderation. Four or five cups a day should be the limit for most people
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Enjoy a ‘dry’ day without drinking, gulp a glass of water between drinks, or try a low/no alcohol alternative
  • Try and eat less processed foods like crisps, cakes, ice cream, and meat products. Cooking from scratch at home can be a fun way to create healthy foods free of processed ingredients
  • Up your calcium and vitamin D intake. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium, which, in turn, contributes to bone mass and can reduce back and neck pain symptoms.
  • Eat lots of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods, including colourful fruits and veggies, fatty fish, nuts, and dark chocolate
  • Exercise can help you lose weight, taking the pressure off your body. Gentle walking, swimming, and yoga are all fantastic low-impact exercises

Try these tips, and you’ll be one step closer to saying goodbye to back and neck pain. However, as always, if you have back or neck pain that won’t go away, we recommend visiting your GP.

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