In a new study, researchers found that eating a more pro-inflammatory diet was linked to a higher risk of low back pain.
This study was performed in response to the growing body of research that points to systemic inflammation as a leading cause to a variety of chronic diseases, with low back pain being one of them
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Pittsburgh.
Low back pain is a common and often chronic condition worldwide, and the leading cause of disability.
The mechanisms for developing low back pain are still unclear.
In the study, the team used the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), a score that assesses the tendency of a particular diet to cause inflammation, to examine diet and health data on a sample of 3,966 U.S. adults.
They found that higher DII scores were significantly associated with low back pain prevalence:
Eating a more pro-inflammatory diet was strongly associated with developing low back pain.
The team says it is relevant to know that pro-inflammatory diets may be associated with painful conditions because that could pave the way to novel dietary intervention approaches.
Traditionally, the diet has been mostly just looked at as a means to lose weight, but its potential could extend way beyond that.
Similarly, this finding also has positive implications for physicians. It opens the doors to a complementary intervention that is drug-free and thus, yields no side effects.
Moreover, an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to help a spectrum of health-related outcomes, preventing a variety of chronic diseases.
Foods with a higher pro-inflammatory potential are red meat, processed meat, and organ meat; refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and many desserts; and sweetened beverages including colas and sports drinks.
Foods that have a higher anti-inflammatory potential are green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, and spinach; dark yellow vegetables such as winter and summer squash and yellow peppers; whole grains such as wheat berries, quinoa, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal; and fruits, tea, coffee, and wine.
These foods contain specific anti-inflammatory compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins, and fiber.
One author of the study is Valerio Tonelli Enrico, PT, MSCE, Research Assistant and doctoral student.
The study was presented at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting.