If you suffer from sciatica, you know all too well the pain that is associated with it. What if some simple dietary changes could help make the pain more manageable or better yet, alleviate it?

Sciatica is an inflammatory disorder, sometimes caused by crowding or pressure on the sciatic nerve. However, there isn’t always an underlying structural cause for the inflammation. There are instances when the sciatic nerve just becomes irritated as a result of the amount of inflammation in your system.

Systemic inflammation has been proven to be a result of the foods we eat, and here is a compiled list of known inflammatory foods and some substitutions that you can make to decrease it.

Trigger #1 Sugar

It seems like sugar is at the top of every list of foods that we should avoid. The problem is, it’s everywhere. Be sure to read labels. Companies tend to sneak sugar into everything in the name of making it taste better. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup, sugar’s evil twin.

Sugar plays a significant roll in raising inflammation levels in your system. If you can get your sugar consumption under control, you will lose weight, decrease your risk of diabetes, and significantly increase your overall health.

Healthy Alternatives:         

  • =Honey - contains antioxidants that decrease inflammation

  • =Molasses - contains antioxidants that decreased inflammation

  • =Maple Syrup - contains more antioxidants than or molasses

  • =Stevia - a plant-based sweetener that has been linked to health benefits

  • =Monk Fruit Sweetener - is often combined with other sweeteners so make sure to read the label

  Trigger #2 Caffeine

If you research caffeine’s effect on inflammation, you will come up with varying results. Some studies say it increases inflammation, and some say it decreases inflammation. However, a study published by the Journal of Hypertension stated that caffeine, combined with mental stress increases inflammation markers in the blood. 

I think it’s fair to say that we all experience mental stress from time to time, so limiting caffeine intake is a good idea for inflammation control.

Healthy Alternatives:

  • =Chicory Root - If it’s the ritual of making coffee that you crave, chicory root is a great substitution. You make it just like you make coffee, and it has an aroma that is very similar to coffee. Enjoy it with milk and sweetener. 

  • =Peppermint Leaves - Mint is very easy to grow, and leaves can be added to hot water to make peppermint tea. Studies show that it provides exercise enhancement and improves oxygen concentration in the brain.

  • =Maca - Add it to your smoothie or mix it with heated plant-based milk for tea. Studies on maca show that it improves mental focus, supports the adrenal system, and combats fatigue.

  • =Ginseng - Ginseng is a popular tea, or it is available in capsule form. Ginseng is a common ingredient in energy drinks. It is also a popular supplement for memory, endurance, and enhancing concentration.

Trigger # 3 Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil sounds innocent enough, but the fact is, it has too many omega 6 fatty acids in relation to omega 3 fatty acids, and that is what increases inflammation. 

 

Healthy Alternatives:

  • =Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) - It is high in omega 3 fatty acids and considered a healthy fat

  • =Organic Expeller Pressed Canola Oil - It is suitable for higher heat cooking or a more neutral taste.

Trigger # 4 Fried and Processed Foods

Popular oils used for frying foods include vegetable, sunflower, and corn oils, all of which contribute to inflammation. Aside from that, fried foods are typically high in saturated fat and have inflammatory properties. 

Processed foods such a sausages, bacon, potted meats, boxed macaroni and cheese, and canned foods are also inflammatory.

Healthy alternatives:

  • =Baked potato wedges

  • =Baked vegetable chips such as kale or sweet potato

  • =Baked meats and fish

  • =Homemade meat salads (ham, chicken)

  • =Fresh vegetables

  • =Homemade macaroni and cheese

Trigger # 5 Refined Grains (Bread, Rice, and Pasta)

Refined grains contain gluten. Gluten is known to cause severe stomach upset in some people and also is a source of inflammation. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, inflammation levels dropped in participants who eliminated gluten from their diets. 

Healthy Alternatives:

  • =Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

  • =Quinoa

  • =Brown Rice

  • =Wild Rice

  • =Buckwheat

  • =Oats (that are labeled gluten-free)

  • =Pasta made from the above-listed grain

  • =Gluten-free flour made from the above-listed grains

Trigger # 6 Saturated Fats (Fatty Meats, Butter, etc.)

Foods that are high in saturated fats include fatty cuts of meat (dark meat, burgers, sausage, bacon), full-fat dairy products, cakes, pastries, pies, and biscuits. Unfortunately, these are some of the foods that we crave most. 

However, if you have ever suffered from sciatica pain, you may find that trading out these high-fat foods for decreased pain is the obvious choice. 

Healthy Alternatives:

  • =Lean White Meats (Chicken, Pork, Turkey)

  • =Fish

  • =Baked Foods 

  • =Low-Fat Dairy Products (Milk, Cheese, Sour Cream, Butter)

  • =Fruits

  • =Nuts

  • =Berries

Trigger # 7 Excessive Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to “leaky gut” syndrome, where toxic bacteria leaks out of the colon and into the body, causing diffuse inflammation and even organ damage. 

Alcoholic drinks should be limited to 2 per day for men and 1 per day for women.

Healthy Alternatives:

  • =Alcohol-Free Sparkling Wine

  • =Alcohol-Free Gin

  • =Booze-Free Beer

  • =Mocktails

Wrap Up

Decreasing the amount of inflammation in your body has many health benefits. Chronic inflammation increases your chance of developing heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

As you can see, there are a lot of foods that increase inflammation in the body. You don’t have to eliminate everything on this checklist to notice a change in your sciatica pain. Start by removing a few things that seem easy to give up and see if you notice a difference. 

If you don’t notice any difference, then maybe eliminate a few other foods that are known to be irritating. One small change usually leads to another when it comes to your diet, so you may find that it has a domino effect and becomes easier over time.

Sources

https://www.howtogetridofsciatica.com/foods-to-avoid-with-sciatica/

https://thomsonandscott.com/blogs/news/healthy-alternatives-to-alcohol-that-you-can-enjoy

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-foods-that-cause-inflammation#1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-free-foods#1