Bye-Bye Back Pain: Foods to Remove from Your Diet

Bye-Bye Back Pain: Foods to Remove from Your Diet


Do you suffer from back pain? It’s a common issue that affects people of any age and background. But did you know that food can actually play a role in whether you experience it or not? We investigate what types of food should be avoided to help reduce symptoms of pain.

It’s becoming apparent that certain foods have the potential to make your pain worse. That’s why it’s important to modify your diet. This includes avoiding specific types of food in order to reduce back pain symptoms. Eating certain food can reduce the effects of anti-inflammatory medications. So, let’s look at foods to remove from your diet to manage back pain!

Processed Foods

Processed foods are often packed with additives, preservatives and unhealthy fats, sugars and salts. These can be damaging to your body and even contribute to back pain.

To give your back the best shot at health, let’s look at some of the processed foods you should avoid:

Packaged Meats

Grocery shopping? Know what’s in packaged meats. Processed ones like bacon, hot dogs, deli meats and sausages may contain nitrates or nitrites – preservatives that can cause inflammation. They result in a product with long shelf life but are linked to cancer, obesity and diabetes. Plus, they contain high amounts of saturated fat and sodium that can increase blood pressure.

For a natural form, look for “hormone-free” or “nitrate-free” ones – no harmful chemicals or preservatives. Or go for organic turkey or chicken breast – free from added hormones and antibiotics. They can lower our resistance to illness and increase pain. Buy fresh, lean meats to minimize fat. And practice portion control to aid digestion and maintain healthy weight – to minimize back muscle strain.

Processed Cheese

Processed cheese is known as ‘cheese spread’ or ‘cheese product’. It is made of mixing one or more types of natural cheeses with fillers and fat. This is to extend its shelf life. However, it lacks many of the benefits that natural cheese offers.

Ingredients such as emulsifiers, cellulose gum, food coloring agents and monosodium glutamate are used to make processed cheese. These ingredients can act as toxins in the body and may worsen back pain due to chronic inflammation. Moreover, processed cheeses contain five times more saturated fat than natural varieties.

It is best to avoid processed foods when trying to reduce inflammation and improve back pain symptoms. If you wish to eat dairy products or cheese, opt for fresh alternatives like cheddar or organic cheeses. These natural varieties offer more nutrition than their heavily processed counterparts!

Refined Grains

Refined grains, also known as “white” grains, have been processed to remove the bran and germ. This means less fiber and fewer nutrients than whole grains. Refined grains are typically served as plain white pasta or white rice.

These foods are quickly absorbed by your body. Consuming too many refined grains can cause blood sugar spikes, leading to inflammation, back pain, and weight gain. Therefore, it’s best for our health to limit refined grains.

Un-enriched white flours such as cake flour, all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, and bleached all-purpose flour should only be consumed on rare occasions. It’s much healthier to opt for naturally nutrient-rich whole grain food options, like intact oats, quinoa, and brown rice. These contain dietary fiber that benefit our digestive, skin and overall health, plus provide essential minerals.

Added Sugars

Processed foods often contain added sugars to increase their shelf life and appeal. There are many forms of sugar added to food, from syrups to sweeteners – which offer no nutritional value. Excess sugar intake can cause inflammation of the joints and muscles. It’s important to understand food labels and look for hidden sugars.

Common added sugars include: High fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, brown sugar, white sugar, fruit juice concentrate, cane juice concentrate, dehydrated cane juice, evaporated cane syrup and turbinado sugar. Remember these sugars are no healthier than table sugar.

To avoid sugar, look for words like “juice” or “dried fruits” rather than “syrup” or “cane“. Many sauces labelled as reduced sugar or low calorie have unnatural additives like xylitol, a sugar alcohol, which causes inflammation.

Artificial Sweeteners

Many of us consume artificial sweeteners, convinced they are better for our health and provide fewer calories. Research, however, shows they may be linked to various body disorders, including back pain.

Artificial sweeteners do not satisfy glucose cravings, and can even cause other food cravings due to insulin resistance. This can lead to higher levels of stress, furthering back pain. Also, they can lead to unhealthy weight gain and weakened bones – both of which are direct causes of back pain.

We should avoid processed foods with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharin often found in diet drinks, candy, gum and yogurts. To steer clear of back pain, it is best to reach for natural sources, like raw honey or real maple syrup, when we have a craving for something sweet.

Foods High in Saturated Fats

Your back pain might be from a diet high in saturated fats. Knowing which foods to avoid can lessen the discomfort and other health issues. Let’s look at which foods contain high levels of saturated fats and how it’s impacting your back!

Red Meat

Red meat, such as beef and lamb, is packed with saturated fat. Although it tastes tender and savory, it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. The high concentration of saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, leading to blocked arteries.

It’s tempting to enjoy steaks and burgers, but it’s best to limit your intake to a few times per month. Daily consumption of red meat can even increase your risk of cancer. The World Health Organization categorizes processed red meats as a Group 1 carcinogen.

When shopping for beef or lamb, opt for lean cuts. Avoid any cuts covered in marinade or sauces that may contain high-fat ingredients like cream or butter. If you do buy fattier cuts, trim off as much fat as possible before cooking.

High-Fat Dairy

High-fat dairy products are full of saturated fats from animal sources. They include cow’s milk, cream and cheese. Eating these foods is linked to health issues like cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis. This is because they raise body weight, LDL cholesterol levels, and cause inflammation.

Saturated fat mostly comes from animal-based foods like butter, cream, red meat, poultry skin, lard, and processed meats. Even if they don’t seem fatty, dairy products can still be high in saturated fat. Examples are:

  • Whole milk
  • Yogurt made from whole milk
  • Ice cream
  • Half & Half cream
  • Heavy cream
  • Cheese (like cream cheese and cheddar)
  • Butter

Coconut and Palm Oil

Coconut and palm oils are two sources of saturated fat. Unlike other plant-based oils, they are solid at room temperature since they contain mostly saturated fats. Intake of saturated fat should be kept to a minimum for best health. Coconut and palm oils should be avoided or used in small amounts.

Recently, coconut oil has become popular due to its high levels of essential fatty acids. Unfortuntely, it is still not healthy, since it has up to 97% saturated fat. Palm oil also has a high concentration of saturated fat (50%) and trans-fats. Trans-fats have been linked to chronic health risks like heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. It is best to avoid these foods if possible.

For an alternative to coconut or palm oil, use vegetable or canola oils. These have much lower levels of saturated fat, while also offering some healthy benefits.

Foods High in Trans Fats

Bad nutrition can be a major cause of back pain. Trans fats are one of the worst offenders. These unhealthy fats hide in processed foods, fried foods and baking mixes. Let’s look at why they are so bad and what food to avoid, to help reduce back pain.

Fried Foods

Fried foods are a big source of trans fats. These fats cause inflammation, which can lead to back pain. Look out for partially hydrogenated oils. The best move is to leave fried foods like french fries and doughnuts behind. Say no to fast food-type items.

Cut down on these fatty treats and your back will thank you!


Margarine is an artificial butter-like spread, widely used, but not worth the health tradeoff. It’s usually made from highly-processed vegetable oils containing trans fat. It may also be fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. However, the unhealthy trans fats in margarine outnumber the benefits.

Be sure to check food labels before buying margarine or foods with margarine as an ingredient. Switch from margarine-based products like cake mixes and icing to all-natural versions without preservatives or hydrogenated margarines. Nut butters are healthier snacking options as they have higher levels of natural healthy fats than margarine. Try substituting with olive oil too.

Baked Goods

When it comes to trans fats, try to stay away! Eating them can lead to inflammation that can cause back pain. Many foods have hidden trans fats, so it’s best to avoid them.

Baked Goods: Bread, cakes, cookies, muffins and other baked goods often use partially hydrogenated oils. Many products claim no trans-fats, but don’t be fooled. Read food labels and look for natural ingredients, like whole wheat flour. Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening, since they contain trans fatty acids.

Fast Food: Burgers and fries contain dangerous trans fat levels, usually from being fried in an unhealthy oil. There aren’t many good substitutes, so it’s best to avoid these if you want to protect your back health.

Snack Foods

Snack foods often have hidden trans fats. Reading labels is key to avoid them. Partially hydrogenated oils or “hydrogenated” oils are just other names for trans fat. Pop or popcorn can contain it right before you pop it. It has a longer shelf life and a buttery flavor making it hard to resist. Check before buying though, to avoid pain later.

Cookies, cakes, donuts, pies, doughnuts, biscuits, and fried foods usually contain trans fats.

Foods High in Sodium

Eating meals high in sodium can cause harm to your body. This is especially true if you experience chronic back discomfort. Sodium gets the body to keep water, which puts pressure on your spine. This leads to more back pain.

In this section, we’ll talk about the food types to avoid if you’d like to cut down on your sodium intake and reduce your back pain:

Processed Meats

Processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami, and corned beef are loaded with sodium. To preserve them, sodium nitrates or nitrites are used. Even nitrate-free versions could have salt as a preservative. Dietitians suggest avoiding meals that include cured meats as they may contain up to hundreds of milligrams of sodium per serving.

Instead, opt for lean proteins such as low-sodium turkey or salmon, which have less than 125mg sodium per serving, in sandwiches and wraps.

Canned Soups

Canned soups are often high in sodium. Broth-based soups range from 400-1000 mg per cup, and creamy soups can have up to 700 mg. Eating canned soup too often is bad for your health, since too much sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure and other illnesses.

To stay within the recommended limit of 2,400 mg, read labels, make fresh/low-sodium homemade soups, use herbs and spices instead of salt in recipes, and avoid processed foods:

  • Read labels
  • Make fresh/low-sodium homemade soups
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt in recipes
  • Avoid processed foods

Frozen Dinners

Frozen dinners are known for their high sodium levels and should be avoided if you have chronic back pain. The FDA states that one ready-to-eat meal can contain 700-1400mg of sodium – more than double the daily recommended value. Add soda or soup to your meal and you’re up to 1900mg! This is far too much for anyone who needs to reduce their sodium intake.

Excess salt prevents muscles and tissues from working properly. This makes it harder for your body to support healthy joints and tendons. Plus, the inflammation spreads throughout the body, leading to tension in the muscles and increased back pain symptoms.

Cook meals at home whenever you can and check labels on processed foods before consuming. Here’s a list of other frozen food items with high sodium levels:

  • Processed meats (ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs)
  • Pizza
  • Frozen pastas
  • Fried foods (chicken nuggets)
  • Canned soups


Condiments like ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and Worcestershire sauce can be high in sodium. Mayonnaise, mustard, barbecue sauce and pickles can also have a lot of salt. Check the nutrition facts label before buying.

Adults should have 2,300 mg of sodium per day. People over 51, African Americans and those with illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease should have 1,500 mg daily. Consider homemade condiments, like salsa or hummus, with little salt and natural flavor enhancers like herbs and garlic, as healthier alternatives to store-bought ones.


To sum up, back pain can come from many different sources. Diet has a significant effect on our physical wellbeing. Eating real food with low inflammation-causing agents can balance the body and possibly lessen or even get rid of lingering back issues.

Luckily, there are plenty of yummy food items that can be added to a nutritious diet. Even though the list of ‘no-no’s may appear overwhelming at first, paying attention to healthier food choices when shopping or eating out little by little will get you on the track to better health.

In the end, great health starts with proper nutrition!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What foods should I avoid to reduce back pain?

The main foods to avoid include processed and fried foods, sugar and sugary treats, refined flours, high-fat dairy products, and red meat. These foods can trigger inflammation, leading to back pain and discomfort.

2. Can certain beverages contribute to back pain?

Caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda can increase the risk of developing back pain. Too much caffeine can lead to dehydration and may cause muscle stiffness, which can trigger back pain. It’s best to drink plenty of water or herbal tea instead.

3. Which vitamins and minerals are beneficial for reducing back pain?

Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium can help to reduce inflammation and improve muscle health. Foods rich in these nutrients include leafy green vegetables, nuts, and fish.

4. Is there a specific diet I should follow to reduce back pain?

A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can help to reduce inflammation and support overall health. Eating a diet that is high in nutrients and low in processed foods can help reduce back pain.

5. Can I still eat dairy products if I have back pain?

You can still consume dairy products, but it’s best to choose low-fat or non-fat options like milk, cheese, and yogurt. High-fat dairy products, like whole milk and cream, can increase inflammation and trigger back pain. Aim to consume dairy products in moderation.

6. How long does it take for dietary changes to reduce back pain?

Everyone is different, so the time it takes to see results from dietary changes may vary. However, sticking to a healthy diet and making good food choices can lead to improved overall health and wellness, which can reduce back pain over time.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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