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Essential Nutrition Tips For Lower Back Pain

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 13 April 2015
Hits: 8935

Quality Nutrition is absolutely essential for optimal health, regardless of what your goals may be. And for back pain the food you eat can even be a contributing factor to your condition!. For adequate repair your body is in constant need of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids to provide the body with the necessary building blocks for muscles, organs, nervous system and emotional energy. Unfortunately this is often an overlooked part of rehabilitation and completely ignored by the modern rehabilitation field. We must place as much importance on the quality of our food, the quality of our sleep and the quality of our movement if we want to be free of lower back pain forever. Relying on medication or surgery is ignorance to the real underlying cause of the problem. This article we will look very closely at the role food has on healing damaged tissue and also how poor food choices stimulate more inflammation.

Is Your Back Pain A Result Of Your Digestive System Being In Pain?

Make sure you watch the quick video above that will summarize this entire article for you.

In the book “How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy” by Paul Chek he explains how pain or inflammation of the digestive organs will reflex to the abdominal muscles, leaving the stabilizer muscles weak or disabled, and your back exposed to injury! He says “Internal organs borrow pain sensitive nerve fibers from the muscular system". This means that when an organ is in pain, the brain cannot determine if it is the muscle or the organ that hurts. The brain only knows what segment of the spine the pain came from. The brain then tells all the tissues and organs on the nerve channel to behave as if they are in pain. Since pain weakens muscles, the abdominal muscles lose tone and strength, and simply don’t respond to exercise very well at all. It completes the  like a muscle that doesn't think its in pain!”.

I have experienced this first hand with many clients who suffered from digestive problems and had severe physical back pain symptoms.

I once had a client who came to see me for back pain he had been suffering with on and off for nearly 6 months. He had been receiving treatment from massage therapists, physiotherapists and his symptoms did not seem to make sense, as one day he could hardly move and in intense pain and the next day gone completely regardless of exercises or stretches we did. I suspected there was something else at play, and that he go and see a doctor to get a check up. He rejected this as his physio had told him it was a QL tightness or SIJ problem. What ended up happening was this client had been developing kidney stones from lack of water. Because the kidneys were in pain everything in that area acted as if it was in pain! Hence the lack of results from all the physio treatment of even my corrective exercise program. We only found out it was kidney problem when he eventually turned yellow and was admitted to hospital. It took him several months to pass the kidney stones. Since then he drinks a lot more water and has never had any back trouble.

The human body is made up of 60% water and only 2% carbohydrate! Water serves as a lubricant and forms the base for saliva, a key indicator of stress is a dry mouth! Water forms the fluids that surround the joints. And as you will see shortly back pain and digestive problems are closely related. Water helps to alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract and thereby eliminating waste. So if you are not drinking enough water, start now!

Below is another quick video with some great information relating to the importance of water.

Eliminate Food Intolerance As A Potential Problem

If you still don’t believe me that Nutrition could be your problem then answer this.

What does it feel like in your stomach when you have eaten something that is off or not right for you? Your guts churn and you feel in pain. How would you go trying to do a workout now feeling like that? Or play an intense game of football or basketball? It would not be good right? How do you know it is your intestines inflamed and not your ab muscles? Well you know it is your intestines because it is something you ate but your abs are sore as anything because they share the same nerve innervation.

If one is in pain they are all are in pain.

Before getting into any exercise prescription you must rule this out. Some people are in a constant state of constipation and do not know it! In our Training assessment we use comprehensive questionnaires and assessments to determine if this is a cause or not. It is extremely important to Eliminate Food intolerance & constipation as a problem by investigating how your body reacts to the intake of certain foods, usually fructose, grains and/or dairy. We have helped countless people lose weight, reduce stress and rehab injuries from all over the body just from removing a food intolerance from their diet! Especially grains.

I have even had Asian clients with an intolerance to rice! Once we removed this from their diet their pain vanished almost overnight! (Read the testimonial by Dom Lach in our success stories page). Understand that Food intolerance is a negative physiological reaction to certain foods or drink that can result in decreased functioning of the digestive system, and also your core!

How Common Is Food Intolerance?

I highly recommend looking up the Food Intolerance Institute for more information if you suspect you have a problem as they provide some excellent resources and information on all types of conditions. I myself have used the Yeast and also the Gluten test and program to great success. I have suffered with Psoriasis for many years and investigated food intolerance as a cause of my problems. (You can read about my story if you click here and see pictures of how got on top of it in 2014). Medical evidence shows food intolerance or is much more prevalent than what is normally quoted. Actually most people don’t even really understand what it means so that instantly tells you that it is hugely underestimated.

But here are some of the facts that I found very interesting on their website:

  • Dairy Intolerance -75%, 3 in 4 people
  • Yeast Sensitivity -33%, 1 in 3 people
  • Gluten Sensitivity - 15%, 1 in 7 people
  • Fructose Sensitivity or Intolerance -35%, 1 in 3 people
  • Food Allergy is less than 1%, or 1 in 100 people.

What Are The Symptoms Of Food Intolerance?

There are dozens of symptoms of food intolerance. They can be anyone of the following symptoms, even several of them at the same time which is why it is so hard to detect

  1. Gastro-intestinal (stomach and digestive tract - bloating or diarrhea, colitis etc.)
  2. Respiratory (lungs and breathing - chronic cough, asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis etc.)
  3. Dermatological (skin conditions - eczema or psoriasis
  4. Neurological (nervous system - chronic headache,
  5. Mental - (behavioural, memory, mood issues, depression treat with effexor )
  6. Musculo-skeletal (muscle and bone disorders - stiff joints, arthritis, gout)
  7. Reproductive (genital and fertility issues - inability to conceive, miscarriage)
  8. Immune system (allergies and frequent infections)
  9. Malabsorption (nutrient deficiencies - anaemia, osteoporosis etc.)

Food intolerance is genetic: Food sensitivity is built into your genes, therefore it 'runs in the family'. You got it from your parents and grandparents. In turn - if you have children - you have already passed it on to them. Celiac Disease (or Gluten sensitivity) for instance occurs in 10% of all first degree relatives of Celiacs - sisters, brothers, parents and children.

Food intolerance is poorly diagnosed:

Even doctors themselves admit that food sensitivity is poorly diagnosed by clinical methods. Clinical testing (blood test, biopsy, breath test etc.) is equally as effective as an Elimination Diet method. Symptoms of food intolerance are delayed - and can take days to appear: Bad reactions to foods can take up to 48 hours to appear after eating. So it is difficult to make a connection between the symptom and the food which caused it. Most people keep buying symptom relief (over-the-counter medications) for years without ever realizing they have food intolerance. And as I explained at the beginning of this article with the story of the guy with kidney pain, you could be wasting your time and money looking for ways to get rid of your back pain, when it has nothing to do with your back at all, but everything to do with your digestive system and your gut!

Why Eating Sugar & Grains Contribute To Back Pain

Did you know that diets high in sugar and fructose will produce arthritic symptoms in joints? Sugar creates heat, which stimulates the inflammatory process and a vicious cycle of stress hormones being secreted over and over. The more pain you are in the more important it is to ELIMINATE ALL TYPE OF SUGAR from your diet. I cannot emphasize this enough. I myself at one point was eating way too much sugar. I was very lean and never put weight on and at times would eat all types of junk food believing that because I was lean it was ok for me to eat. What happened was, I started to get a lot of aches and pains in my wrists and my big toes. This was making it harder for me to do push ups and lunges, it even started to affect my running. Once I eliminated sugar from my diet, my symptoms disappeared almost overnight!

Your exercise program will have a hard time taking effect if you continue to eat sugar. You must eliminate sugar completely. It sounds pretty blunt, but it is absolutely true. If you want to get rid of your back pain or even lose some weight, DON’T EAT SUGAR! It really is that simple for this particular food. When you eat too much sugar here is what happens to all the excess: They are converted, via insulin, into fat and stored in the adipose, or fatty, tissue.

Any time you eat a meal or snack high in carbohydrates generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers the glucose. Insulin, stimulated by the excess carbohydrates is responsible for all those bulging stomachs. Even worse, high insulin levels suppress two other important hormones -- glucagons and growth hormones -- that are responsible for burning fat and sugar and promoting muscle development. This is really bad if you have a weakness in your core or with your legs that needs to be addressed as you will not be able to respond well to exercise and strengthen these weak muscles.

Plus it is a massive double hit to your health and fitness efforts every time you eat sugar because insulin from excess  carbohydrates promotes fat, and then at the same time inhibits the body's ability to lose that fat! You need to increase your muscle mass to speed up metabolism and control many of the hormones that contribute to weight gain and health problems? Well that is nearly impossible when you are eating too much sugar. And apart from not being able to get on top of your injury now you are going to start gaining weight and now in trouble of getting a series of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease!

Eat More Vegetables Fat & Protein

Eating a diet high in Omega 3, Fish and Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, will give your body the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to build and repair the body’s injured tissues, joints and muscles. Diet and exercise are two important components to consider if you want to live a long and healthy life. This is true regardless of what age you are and is a constant frustration for me when talking to people who are religious with their exercise or gym training but lacking results. About 99% of the time the reason they lack results is due to poor nutrition, in particular a lack of green vegetables and protein.

Protein plays a big role in making sure the adaptation and repair process works. Protein is essential for proper muscle growth and maintenance—especially for older adults, as your body becomes increasingly less able to use dietary protein for building muscle. Clients who I have worked with who ate more protein increased their rates of muscle protein synthesis, (improving their body’s ability to build muscle), significantly faster than those who were eating too many carbohydrates. They also improved their net protein balance, which is the difference between protein synthesis and breakdown. We recommends getting most of your protein from animal sources such as seafood, beef, chicken, milk and cheese. Again balance is the key.

Read our articles below for more information on best quality of vegetables and protein.

Be careful of eating too much protein, as this can cause digestive problems and constipation. When you consume more protein than your body needs, your body must remove more nitrogen waste products from your blood, which stresses your kidneys. So more does not automatically equal better. For optimal health, most people need about one gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Increase that by 25 percent for extensive exercise, like walking or your weight training day. Always look for the best quality, organic is best and free range next. Your goal should be a diet with enough—but not too much—high-quality protein from a variety of animal and plant sources. Then, along with your new strength training routine you now give yourself the best chance to add muscle, improve bone health, movement and function to live a life free of pain and limitations once and for all!

Quick Way To More Vitamins

To get more vitamins and minerals from leafy greens into your diet, the easiest method I have found is by juicing. I regularly consume a detoxification vegetable juice each day and I cannot describe just how good my body feels afterwards. This is like getting a huge shot of vitamins that my body needs to repair all the damage from my training and active lifestyle. Many people prefer to use synthetic capsules but this is a poor choice as you need to get vitamins from food, not tablets. Read our article on vitamins and minerals to see why it is so important to get your vitamins from foods and not tablets.

What About Exercise?

Obviously this is also a massive part of correcting problems and there is many things to consider, assess and correct. There is stacks of great articles on this you will find by going to our INDEX PAGE and also checking out our FREE REPORT.

Our most detailed program which you can access immediately with over 90 minutes of video and an 85 page PDF book that provides step by step instructions, 6 phase programs and everything you need to know about how to implement a back pain rehabilitation program is below. Click here to get your copy.


This is quite a complex and messy topic to explain but extremely important if you are a person with chronic back pain. Several times in this article I have raised the question of how often are you asked, "what is your diet like" when you see a physician or therapist, even a trainer for that matter regarding a physical injury? It is usually ignored and treated as not relevant. This is not only dangerous but also can be very time consuming and costly as you continue to go about finding answers to a problem using all of the wrong methods. Society and the medical community must start rating nutrition as a critical factor for rehabilitation and the first component to get right before even looking at exercises. Only then can we ensure great outcomes for everyone.

If you would like to know more about our Personal Training programs and Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention programs you can request a free postural and movement assessment by clicking the image below and I will get back to you within 24 hours to schedule a time.