By Jessica Smith
It’s always heartening to know that there can actually be a natural and side-effect-free way to combat body pain. I, for one have lost count of all the medicinal lower back pain relief products I tried before I knew better. So, when a friend approached me asking if I had any advice on such a way to deal with her Sciatica, I told her to combine specific exercises with an anti-inflammatory diet.
NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and oral steroids may reduce pain intensity. However, for the long-term, their use can prove detrimental.
Below are 6 amazing dietary tips for effective Sciatica management, that I gleaned from discussions with various contacts of mine.
First Things First, More on Sciatica
Put simply, Sciatica is discomfort or pain that affects the sciatic nerve, the human body’s longest nerve! It extends down the lower back and buttocks all the way down to the back of the legs and also the feet. The pain is triggered from damage to or pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica can result from any of a number of reasons including a slipped disc or disc herniation (most common trigger), Spinal Stenosis, spine tumors, Cauda Equina Syndrome, Spondylolisthesis, bone spurs or Piriformis Syndrome.
6 Diet Tips to Deal with It
As mentioned at outset, an anti-inflammatory diet is essential if Sciatica is to be effectively combated through food. Here are 6 suggestions:
Consume foods with copious amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids.
A good vegan choice is nuts, which are additionally great sources of protein. In addition to their considerable Omega 3 content, nuts also have phytonutrients, rare nutrients which help with healing. Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews are the best.
Leafy greens and fruits, magical as they already are, work magic here too.
Leafy green vegetables are a must-have for a balanced diet. So, you would be even happier to know that they alleviate Sciatica by way of restoring cellular health, which is crucial in fighting against sciatic nerve pain. They are rich in carotenoids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that aid with battling inflammation. Kale, sprouts, and broccoli are some vegetables that you must include in your diet if you want to combat Sciatica pain. Speaking of greens, you may be pleased to know green superfood is available to buy as convenient vegetable supplements.
Also consume fruits such as oranges, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Tomatoes are a necessary inclusion in an anti-Sciatica diet owing to their being loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. The antioxidant combination of zera-carotene, phytoene, and phytofluene helps control inflammation. You can easily include one or two small tomatoes in your salad or consider cooked dishes where the rosy red fruit would make a pleasant addition.
Make sure you aren’t deficient in these B Vitamins.
The vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are known for their ability to bring down blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid connected to inflammation. Given below are some good vegan sources for each of these 3 vitamins:
- Vitamin B6 – Oranges, papayas, cantaloupe, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, and beans.
- Vitamin B9 – These vegetables are rich sources of Vitamin B9: asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, and romaine lettuce. Chickpeas are another rich source. Less rich but still fairly good sources of Vitamin B9 are bananas, winter squash, bulgur, and potatoes.
- Vitamin B12 – Impressive sources include enriched rice milk, fortified plant milk of almond or soy, yogurt and fortified breakfast cereals.
Are you getting enough magnesium?
Foods rich in magnesium assist with decreasing muscle spasms which trigger Sciatica. This isn’t surprising considering that there is a connection between low magnesium levels and chronic inflammation. So consider incorporating some of these items into your diet: apples, brown rice, apricots or Lima beans. Also dark chocolate has plenty of magnesium.
How about potassium?
Intake of potassium-containing foods may help alleviate sciatica pain. So you have nothing to lose but possibly something to gain from consuming some from these major potassium food sources: cantaloupe, avocados, apricots, citruses, dark leafy greens, squash, bananas, potatoes, mushrooms, and nuts.
Avoid these foods.
No list of diet tips for Sciatica would be complete without a description of foods that you should steer clear of, or at least limit intake of. The reason is that such foods may trigger flare-ups. Food from fast food restaurants is top on the list of “should avoid” for Sciatica sufferers.
If you have a craving for chips, why not try some home-baked kale chips? Bake them with extra virgin olive oil, a healthier alternative to vegetable oil. There’s no doubt your body will thank you for making the change. I tried it once and absolutely loved it. Trust you will too.
Other foods that are best avoided are:
- Sources of saturated fat such as dark-meat poultry, processed meats, high-fat dairy, poultry skin, and egg yolks. (This shouldn’t be a problem if you are vegetarian.)
- Instant rice, white bread, baked goods made using white or baking flour. Did your heart just sink? To compromise, consider gluten-free alternatives.
- Stick margarine and any commercial foods with hydrogenated vegetable oil listed as an ingredient.
- Soft drinks, sweetened cereals, desserts rich in added sugars, pancake syrup, artificial sweeteners
So that’s it – a look at how to fight against Sciatica with wise food choices. My sincere thanks to all those who contributed information for this article, which I combined with my own research. In closing, don’t forget to complement your smart anti-Sciatica diet with a targeted and regular exercise program. And you can also try herbal supplements like turmeric, garlic etc that are very effective herbal remedies for sciatica; there are many cheap supplements available in the market for this.
About the Author:
Jessica is an avid reader who enjoys getting lost in the world of books. Holding on to her passion for fitness, she believes that a healthy diet is a key to healthy living.