Foods That Help Back Pain

Danh NgoHealthy Living Division, NutritionLeave a Comment

foods that help you sleep

Back pain is the most common muscle and joint condition that deprives many people of feeling and moving like their best.  As modern medicine is improving with precise surgical techniques and advanced diagnostic tools, back pain is still on the rise.  Digestion disorder is on the rise as society is relying on quick nutrient lacking food options, high-stress lifestyle, and jam-packed flavors in our diet.  NIH database shows that 60 to 70 million people affected by all digestive diseases, and costing 141.8 billion of dollars.  The amount of people suffering from a range of symptoms from constipation, bloating, acid reflux, upset stomach and much more is about double to the 30 million of people suffering from diabetes.  This article will highlight foods that help back pain from an inside-out healing approach, which will complement any lower back exercises.  You do not necessarily need to have gut issues to benefit from these foods.  Modern society brings a culture that stresses our gut and any healing support can pay huge dividend in 4-9 months.

As a Holistic Physical Therapist who has honed the craft and art of Medicine, we have come to the conclusion that what happens on the inside, impacts how we feel and move on the outside.  This leads to our favorite advice saying “do not chase the pain or mood”.    When my wife and I are raising our children, and they become “moody” or “acting like a brat”, there is usually an underlying internal health component driving the emotional outburst.  As a baby is crying, many parents reason that there are three reasons: poop, hungry, or sleepy.  As we get older, we suppress the need to sleep or eliminate our bowels when we are in the middle of school or get confused on proper nutritional choices that our body becomes hungry for real food.

There is another philosophy we believe in that connects the two systems of orthopedic (muscle and joint care) to the digestive system.

Our body will protect us at all cost.

Our organs are more important than our muscles and joints.  We cannot live or thrive without a stomach or liver.  Every organ has a natural healthy rhythm and when this is “off”, it gets stuck in a dysfunctional pattern.  The situation of our organ can switch towards a disease state or stay unhealthy, like a car with a check engine light on.  The state of dysfunction is usually not detected by testing or not taken seriously by Medical Doctors until it gets switched into something serious.  On top of this, the dysfunctional organ will bost more energy by taking circulation and oxygen from your muscles and joints.  Your muscles and joints will tighten to protect the organ to ensure your movement will not aggravate the organ.  The double whammy effect of being constantly tight with less circulation leads to more vulnerability to muscle and joint injury.

An example is that most low back pain sufferers will have tight hip flexors.

Many will stretch and get soft-tissue and joint manipulations for numerous sessions without relief.  You may feel trigger points (see figure) within the muscle itself.  If this treatment does not resolve, then it can be safe to assume that your muscle is protecting something by stiffening at all cost, regardless of how much stretching or exercise you do.


A common strategy that we incorporate with our clients is to combine safe exercise, get hands-on Physical Therapy, and eat foods that support the unhealthy organ that is causing the orthopedic condition.  Many back pain sufferers that we see at our Long Beach Physical Therapy headquarters have digestive issues, so this article will highlight the 5 most overlooked foods or herbs that will help your digestion, and thus, relax your back from this death grip need to protect your digestive organs.  If you have been diagnosed with diverticulitis, GERD, leaky gut, colitis, constipation, Crohn’s disease, small bowel obstruction, gallbladder disease, ulcers, or anything related to the digestive system, these foods may be beneficial to add into your diet.


Here is another factor that will help you understand if the 3 foods below are the best or not for you.  Your body will tell you if you NEED or you should HOLD off (for three months) on eating this three food.

The optimal time to stop and listen to your body is 40-60 minutes after you eat.

There are three main categories to which you need to pay attention to after you consume the recommended food: physical, emotional, and recovery/detox.

Physical: BAD if the food makes you feel tired, weak, and sluggish.  Food should recharge you but in this case, help you to relax.

Emotional: BAD if the food makes you feel moody, anxious, impatient, or a sense of “something is off”.  Food should help you be in a state of calmness.Recovery: BAD if your body begins to produce “stuff” to detox out of your nose, mouth, and skin such as like mucous, allergy, itchy, sore throat, and temperature changes (cold or hot).  The obvious signs of eating something bad are diarrhea and vomiting.  In this article’s purpose of sleep, the food should help you get a restorative night of sleep, which includes dreaming and waking up feeling fresh.



This underappreciated vegetable is a powerful anti-inflammatory food that helps to alkalize the digestive system.  Celery help in addressing bacteria overgrowth, yeast, mold, fungus, and viruses and flushes their toxins and debris out of the intestinal tract.  Celery has enzymes and coenzymes which helps with increasing your digestive juice called hydrochloric acid in your stomach.  If you have low energy or difficulty focusing, assume you might have something suppressing your intestinal tract.  Eat more celery or drink celery juice more often.

Glycemic index: 15



This fruit contains digestive enzymes that help to break down the food that you eat.  The digestive enzymes in papaya help lower inflammation and can be beneficial for conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, joint pain or digestive inflammation.

As we age, we lose some of these crucial digestive enzymes.  Papaya helps to support your pancreas and brings more alkalinity to your intestinal tract.

You can eat a few papaya seeds as it is good for addressing parasites related issues.

We prefer the Mexican and Central American papaya as oppose to the Hawaiin version due to less GMO influence.

Glycemic index: 55



Dates are great for boosting your digestive system due to its ability to restore your intestines’ ability to move your food through your digestive tract called peristalsis.  It is known for being effective against parasites related issues, such as yeast, mold, and fungus, binding to them and sweeping them out of your body.  As a good source of potassium, it can help with improved muscle strength and metabolism, maintaining good hydration and electrolytic functions, and helping keep the nervous system healthy.

Being a favorite snack of ours, it helps in supporting our adrenal glands.  The numerous bioactive minerals help to counter the stress that life deals with you, which is the role of the adrenal gland.

Glycemic Index: 70


Lemon Balm

We love this herb for its multiple health benefits on the body.  Lemon balm is a strong antioxidant known as Melissa officinalis.  It has a calming effect on the nerves that impact our heart and digestive system.  It has a natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefit.  Our nerves control our muscles.   This is one reason why addressing the nerve can relax the digestive tract.

For more details about lemon balm and its other benefits, check out this resource.


Red Clover

This herb is on this list for its powerful effect on the lymphatic system.  It is a diuretic and a great blood builder.  As the first four foods focus on the digestive system, if you have back pain that does not resolve easily, you can assume that your body may benefit from a food that will help flush out inflammatory waste.  Stiff muscles commonly lack good circulation and the dual effect of having better “flow” to the lymphatic and circulation system will help your body’s inflamed state.

Don’t forget to drink 10-12 glasses of water to flush the toxins and inflammation waste out, support your fascia, and muscles hydrated.  The white part of your lower back spine (in the picture) is called the thoracolumbar fascia.  It is the highway where forces stay stuck when it is not flexible.  Many people we see with back pain has stiffness located here.  Your hip flexors, flank or hips become painful as a result.  Water helps to support the thoracolumbar fascia from becoming dehydrated.

Other food and herb notables: Dandelion, spinach, plantains, ginger, and fennel.

Try to avoid these food for faster results when trying to stop back pain: artificial sugar, gluten, dairy, and MSG


Try incorporating these foods into your daily lives for the next 6-12 months.  Incorporate our exercise strategies and back pain advice for lasting relief.  If you need a second opinion or looking for immediate relief from a Long Beach Holistic Physical Therapist, click on the green button to save a time on our schedule for a FREE consultation.



Stay Strong,

Dr Danh Ngo

Holistic Spine and Sports Medicine Physical Therapist

Long Beach, CA

ReVITALize Rehab Club

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