The simple answer is, quite possibly, yes. Maybe not just this one breakfast, but most of us have a routine, so whatever has been the menu for awhile may be the culprit.
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Coffee and a danish? Perhaps a bagel with cream cheese. Maybe even doughnut or a cereal bar. Unfortunately, these are all part of the Standard American Diet (S.A.D. for short) that generally contains too many simple carbs, trans fats and refined grains that are devoid of any nutrients and all to often lead to many degenerative diseases rampant today- diabetes, heart disease, cancer and yes, back pain.
Consider this. It is estimated that more than 80% of adults will experience at least one episode of dehabilitating back pain in their lifetime.
Most people can’t afford to be laid up for several days after an episode of back pain. There are bills to pay and mouths to feed and the stress of those things certainly doesn’t help.
But there is something you can do to help prevent such an episode from occurring. And its as simple as what you eat everyday.
Eat less sugar and refined grains. Let’s face it- sugar and refined carbs are literally killing us. Sugar and white flour are so refined they have no nutrients left, so when we digest them, it actually takes nutrients, like B vitamins to do so creating a negative balance within the body of these essential vitamins. B vitamins are necessary for your body to make energy. Lack of B vitamins may also play a key role in heart disease. The latest research shows that blood levels of a chemical called homocysteine, are the strongest predictors of heart attack risk, NOT cholesterol or triglycerides as previously thought. B vitamins, specifically, B6, B9 and B12 are needed to break this homocysteine molecule down so it can be eliminated from the body. Without adequate amounts, homocysteine builds up in the blood, damages arteries and leads to artherosclerosis.
As for your back pain, carbohydrates are needed to provoke insulin secretion. Fat and protein do not cause insulin to be secreted. Insulin will cause excess carbs to be stored as fat, particularly abdominal fat (this type of fat is also known as an insulin meter. The more of it you have, the more likely you are to have insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Remember its called a beer gut, not a Filet Mignon gut.) As the abdominal fat increases, it changes the center of gravity within the body and thus changes body mechanics. The curve of the low back increases as the muscles on either side of the spine become short and tight, trying to counterbalance the increased weight in the front so as to maintain an erect posture. The abdominal muscles are stretched out and weakened, leaving the lumbar spine without support and vulnerable to injuries, especially from twisting. In short, the muscles that use to have the job of stabilizing the low back can no longer do their job effectively, leaving the joints of the spine vulnerable to injury.
Get more essential fats. You know, the ones you hear about all the time in the news. Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA. The optimal ratio for human nutrition is a ratio of 2:1 Omega 6s to Omega 3s. But in the S.A.D. this ratio is more like 20:1. Even though Omega 6s are essential fats too, they tend to work in pathways that create inflammatory mediators, whereas Omega 3s decrease inflammation. In addition, Omega 3s give flexibility to cell membranes and positively effect low HDL/high LDL and cholesterol and have been shown to protect against heart disease. Most people known that Omega 3s are in food like cold water fish, walnuts, and flax seeds. The problem however is what Omega 6s are in- everything. Corn and soybean oil are the biggest culprits as well as cottenseed oil which are in just about every food that comes in a package. Avoid them.
Fiber is you friend. Think about it, your large intestine lives directly in front of you lumbar spine. When the moves are bound up or moving slowly, extra fluid tends to accumulate around them in an effort to detoxify the toxic excrement. The spongy cartilage discs between the lumbar vertebrae are not well supplied with blood, so they get food and drop off their waste through the opening and closing of the spaces between the vertebrae (think of an accordian). When there is too much fluid in the general vacinity because the bowels are moving too slowly, the discs can take up some of this excess fluid and swell. This can lead to back pain. So, not only does fiber lower your risk of colon cancer, but can also decrease back pain through the same mechanism- helping move waste out of the body faster.
And last but not least….
Drink more water. That coffee you’re addicted too every morning? Well, caffeine is dehydrating. It causes your body to secrete extra water. Over time, this cause your body to have deficient of water. One of the things that makes the discs in between the vertebrae soft and able to absorb shock is water. If your body is dehydrated, the discs will be too. When the discs lose water, we say they are “dessicated” and all kinds of fun things happen then. Without enough water, the discs will loss their height and the vertebrae will begin to get closer to each other. This changes the joint mechanics and in short, leads to arthritis in the spine.
So tomorrow morning instead of that coffee and danish, why don’t you try some free-range eggs and a mug of herbal tea instead? Your back will thank you.