According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve – the largest nerve in the body that controls muscles in the lower leg, back of the knee, sole of the foot and back of the thigh. People suffering from sciatica pain may experience numbness, pain, or tingling in their legs, as well as pain radiating from the lower back that extends to the calves, soles of the feet and toes. Luckily, an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce sciatica and back pain symptoms. Here is how an anti-inflammatory diet can help with sciatica and back pain:
1. Weight loss
According to the University of Washington’s Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine clinic, weight loss is an effective way of managing back and sciatic pain symptoms. This is because sciatica and back pain can result from narrowing of the spinal canal, which in turn puts pressure on the spinal stenosis nerve. In addition, overweight and obese people are more likely to develop injuries around the pelvis or rapture their intervertebral disks. As such, shedding excess weight reduces the risk of experiencing/developing these problems.
2. Balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods
Eating a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods could help you ease sciatic and back pain. It is worth noting that the body produces prostaglandins (hormones that influence inflammation) from fatty acids. Nevertheless, not all prostaglandins are bad because some enhance inflammation while others inhibit the same process. With this in mind, you should eat foods that can help inhibit the inflammation process, especially fiber-rich foods, vegetables and fruits. Fiber-rich foods lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in the blood. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that CRP is an inflammation indicator. CRP is found in carrots, peppers, Bing cherries, and soybeans. Fruits and vegetables like spinach, kales, avocado, strawberries, broccoli, and blueberries also play an important role in helping the body fight inflammation. Consume at least 1 1/2 -2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables per meal.
You should also eat about 3 to 4 ounces of fish bi-weekly because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation by lowering levels of inteleukin-6 and CRP hormones. Alternatively, take fish oil supplements. If you can, use turmeric, garlic, and ginger while cooking to benefit from their anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, turmeric has selective COX-2 inhibitor properties making it an ideal anti-inflammatory food additive. At the same time, you should avoid foods that contain refined carbohydrates (white bread and pasta), red meat, margarine, French fries, animal products (expect eggs and fatty fish), and sugary beverages because they aid inflammation according to the Harvard Medical School.
Sciatic and back pain can lower one’s qualify of life significantly. Fortunately, the right diet can help you combat the pain associated with these two conditions. More specifically, you should adopt a diet that will help you shed excess weight in order to ease the pressure on your spine. Moreover, the diet should contain a lot of fruits, vegetables, fatty fish and fiber-rich foods. Good examples of such foods include salmon, tuna, tomatoes, spinach, kale, nuts and strawberries.