Foods Offering Anti-inflammatory Properties May Ease Your Aching Back

Posted by the Mom (aka Kelly Biedny)

Back pain

Lately, my neck and shoulder have been causing me issues with chronic pain and numbness. Probably, due to poor posture sitting at a desk much of my work life, and all that hauling around of kids and their stuff over the years.

I’m starting yoga and continuing strength training to deal with this, but anti-inflammatory food is another route I am pursuing, which is why I’m excited to share guest blogger Kathy Nealson’s post. Today, she shares information on several foods that help your body fight inflammation.

Kathy owns a small women’s boxing gym and enjoys reading and writing about anything related to health or small businesses.

According to The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), in a period of three months, approximately one-fourth of American adults experience at least one day with back pain. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the U.S. While anyone can experience back pain, the NIAMS states that the first attack usually occurs when an individual is between 30 and 40 years old. According to Dr. James N. Dillard, author of "The Chronic Pain Solution," it does not matter how well a physician prescribes medication; a patient suffering with chronic pain rarely gets complete relief. Dillard states that this is a big problem that the medical community is having difficulty solving. He continues, stating that there is an alternative — foods that ease your pain and fight inflammation.


Cherries contain Antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins. Muraleedharan Nair, a natural products chemist at Michigan State University’s College of Agricultural and Natural Resources states that these antioxidants block inflammation while inhibiting pain enzymes. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) use this same process.

Photo by Paolo Neo via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Mehmet Oz also states that cherries are pain-fighting antioxidants. He says that you can eat 20 fresh or frozen organic cherries to relieve pain. He recommends blending frozen cherries with cashew butter for a delicious pain-reducing treat. Fresh cherry recipes are also available at sites like Recipe girl.

Other berries that contain natural NSAIDs include:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Grapes
  • Cranberries
  • Acai
  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranates


Eating omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish like salmon help combat pain while keeping your heart healthy. Increasing your consumption of food high in omega-3s can reduce pain, joint swelling and morning stiffness.

Photo by James Bowe via Flickr

University of Pittsburgh researchers conducted a study and found that Omega-3 significantly reduces non-surgical back and neck pain. This study found that 66 percent of the people who took fish oil supplements for three months improved their overall pain. The dosage ranged from 1,200 mg to 2,400 mg of essential fatty acids (EFAs), and most were able to discontinue taking their NSAIDs. Ideally, eat a cold-water fatty fish twice a week.

Other fish to consider include:

  • Sardines
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Snapper
  • Halibut
  • Light Tuna
  • Striped Bass

You can find numerous recipes for fish at sites like Dr. Gourmet.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions offer rich sources of flavonoids. These are plant chemicals responsible for eliminating free radicals. They also fight inflammation, especially in rheumatic conditions. You can find more information about arthritis of the spine and other common back conditions at sites like Laser Spine Institute. With numerous locations across the country, Laser Spine Institute has made finding back pain relief possible no matter where you reside.

Photo by garryknight via Flickr

The flavonoid quercetin is found in garlic and onions. Quercetin may dampen the chemicals that cause inflammation.

These chemicals include:

  • Prostaglandins
  • Histamines
  • Leukotrienes

Onions and garlic add flavor to many traditional dishes. However, you can find recipes like Roasted Garlic Soup at sites like Whole Living.


Soy is loaded with isoflavones, which have anti-inflammatory properties. If you consume soy regularly, you should notice its effects within two to three weeks. According to a study conducted by Oklahoma State University, study participants who consumed 40 g of soy protein daily for three months were able to cut their medication use in half. Another study that was conducted by Italian researchers discovered that the phytoestrogen genistein found soy relieved pain related to nerve injury in mice. Ideally, eat foods that contain unprocessed soybeans.

Photo by Kanko* via Wikimedia Commons

These foods include:

  • Tempeh – Fermented soybeans in cake form (traditionally wrapped in banana leaves)
  • Miso – Fermented bean paste
  • Tofu — Curd made from mashed soy beans
  • Edamame – Fresh green soybeans often served steamed in the pod

You can find recipes for all four of these foods at sites like Eating Well.

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