Can Some Foods Make My Back Pain Worse?

Chronic back pain is something no one wants to live with for very long. And while you may have tried all the other back pain remedies, including adjusting your posture, getting some light exercise, and replacing your mattress, your pain still lingers.

As unlikely as it seems, your diet may have more to do with your chronic back pain than you may initially think it does.

How Does My Diet Contribute to My Back Pain?

One of the main reasons you experience back pain is because of inflammation in the muscles and tissues in your back.

This inflammation can be caused by an injury, illness, or just age, and reducing the inflammation in your back reduces your overall back pain.

A big factor in how much inflammation your body experiences is your overall diet. Some foods are great for fighting inflammation, while others make this condition worse. 

If you experience chronic back pain, eliminating foods known to cause inflammation from your diet is a key step to getting the relief you’re seeking.

What Foods Cause Inflammation & Make Back Pain Worse?

Here are 5 foods and ingredients that can increase inflammation, making your back pain worse:


Processed foods are full of preservatives that make them shelf-stable for longer periods of time. But these preservatives also can trigger an immune response in your body, affecting your back and increasing your pain.

It’s best to avoid processed foods as much as possible if you’re looking to decrease inflammation, but if you still have to keep some processed foods in your diet, get good at reading labels.

Look for labels that list carboxyl, parabens, cellulose, benzoic acid, or potassium sorbate. All of these preservatives have been found to trigger inflammatory responses in the body and should be avoided.


This one’s difficult, especially if you have a sweet tooth. However, if you’re really looking to decrease your pain and inflammation, you need to do your best to reduce your sugar intake.

Too much sugar in your body can boost your insulin levels, and chronically high insulin levels lead to inflammation.

Natural sugars found in dairy and fruit shouldn’t affect your body too much, so you don’t really need to avoid these. However, eating baked goods, candies, and processed foods that contain added sugar can cause problems.

Red Meat

A steak or burger every once in a while isn’t going to cause you too much trouble, but if you consume red meat daily, you could have issues.

Red meat contains a sugar called Neu5GC, which promotes inflammation in the body.

It’s best to limit your red meat consumption to once or twice a week, and to choose the least processed forms of red meat when you do choose to eat it. In other words, opt for the beef tenderloin over the hot dogs, sausages, or bacon.


In some people, dairy can cause inflammation if their bodies are sensitive to casein.

If you are someone who experiences bloating or pain after consuming dairy, do your best to avoid milk, cheese, butter, and other sources as much as possible to hopefully keep your inflammation levels down.


A glass of wine or bottle of beer may seem to ease your pain in the moment, but it only increases your pain long-term.

Have you ever noticed that your face or hands look puffy after a night where you’ve had too many drinks? That’s inflammation due to water retention and the diuretic effects of alcohol.

Having a couple of drinks every now and then, or even a serving of alcohol daily, isn’t going to impact your levels of inflammation too much. But any more than that and you could be on your way to back pain.

What Should I Eat to Ease Back Pain?

Now that you’ve read all about things you shouldn’t eat if you want to improve your back pain, you may be wondering: What foods can I eat that won’t make my back pain worse?

Concentrate on filling your diet with unprocessed foods rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, such as:

  • Fruits, especially all types of berries
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Nuts, grains, and legumes
  • Foods rich in Omega-3s, such as fish and flaxseed

Care for Back Pain in Frederick, MD

If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, don’t suffer alone! At Lipinski Chiropractic, we offer safe, non-invasive back pain relief that gets you back on the road to health more quickly. Our individualized care plans take into account the severity and type of pain you experience, as well as any other factors that could contribute to your back pain. Call today for an appointment!