How Foods Can Affect Sciatica


Sciatica is a health issue caused by the compression or impingement of the sciatic nerve, or the longest and largest nerve in the human body. Patients with sciatica can experience painful symptoms anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve. Common symptoms associated with sciatica include pain and discomfort, tingling sensations, numbness, and weakness.


Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by a variety of health issues,  such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, pregnancy, scar tissue, tight muscles, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, degenerative disc disease, tumors, and infection. Sciatic nerve pain can occur along one or both sides of the human body. According to numerous research studies, inflammation caused by an improper diet can cause sciatic nerve pain. Below, we will discuss how certain types of foods, both good and bad, can affect sciatica. 


Good Foods for Sciatica


Patients with sciatica caused by muscle spasms, such as piriformis syndrome, can benefit from consuming a variety of magnesium-rich foods. The human body uses magnesium to help release muscle contractions. Several magnesium-rich foods include dairy products, fish, meat, seafood, apples, apricots, brown rice, dulse, and lima beans. Foods with considerable amounts of vitamin B-12, such as liver, clams, oysters, lamb, and cheese, might also be beneficial for sciatic nerve pain.


Halibut is a magnesium-rich food which may help treat sciatica associated with tight muscles or muscle spasms. Halibut contains numerous nutrients, including tryptophan, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B3, B6 and B12. The significantly increased levels of vitamin B12 in halibut can also help reduce painful symptoms. Halibut is also used to help treat cardiovascular problems, such as heart arrhythmia and elevated blood pressure.


Because sciatica is a collection of symptoms rather than a single condition, patients with sciatic nerve pain should seek help from a healthcare professional to determine if an underlying health issue is causing the painful symptoms. In some cases, sciatic nerve pain may be caused by a serious problem, such as a tumor. Although further research studies may be needed to confirm the benefits of foods for sciatica, more research studies still have demonstrated how foods can also affect sciatica. 


Bad Foods for Sciatica


According to numerous research studies, eating a low-nutrient diet or a diet which may cause weight gain can ultimately cause a variety of health issues, including sciatic nerve pain and inflammation. Consuming foods rich in B-vitamins are essential for healthy nerve tissue. When we eat refined grain products, valuable nutrients are lost through the process, including B-vitamins. To make sure we eat nutrient dense foods, choose whole grains over refined grain products, such as white bread, instant rice, enriched pasta, low-fiber cereals and baked goods prepared with white, baking or cake flour.


Added sugars are ingredients which add sweet flavor and calories to foods, however, they offer very little nutrients. These are also high-glycemic and they may have a considerable impact on blood sugar levels. A high-glycemic diet can increase inflammation and it also leaves less room for beneficial, anti-inflammatory foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods and beverages particularly high in added sugars include regular soft drinks, candy, pancake syrup, frosting, sweetened cereals, frozen desserts and commercially-prepared cakes, cookies, pies, and brownies, among other foods and beverages.


Saturated fats can also increase inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends restricting the consumption of saturated fats to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. Common sources of saturated fats include red and processed meats, dark-meat poultry, poultry skin, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, and egg yolks. Healthcare professionals recommend replacing saturated fats in your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, or healthy fats with anti-inflammatory properties, to reduce sciatica. Sources of omega-3s include cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, canola oil, and walnuts.


Trans-fats, also well-known as trans-fatty acids, are chemically-produced fats which can increase LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and decrease HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. According to research studies, trans-fats are also pro-inflammatory substances and they can ultimately account for less than 1 percent of the calories in a heart-healthy diet. Common sources of trans-fats include stick margarine, shortening, and commercial foods which list hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient. 


Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, can be caused by a variety of underlying health issues, including herniated discs and spinal stenosis, among other spine problems. However, numerous research studies have demonstrated that the foods we eat can affect painful symptoms, such as those associated with sciatic nerve pain or sciatica. “Good” foods can help reduce sciatica symptoms while “bad” foods can increase sciatica symptoms, affecting overall health and wellness. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight



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A healthy diet may help manage pain and inflammation associated with sciatica. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .


Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez  



Additional Topic Discussion: Severe Sciatica

Back pain is one of the most prevalent causes of disability and missed days at work worldwide. Back pain attributes to the second most common reason for doctor office visits, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Approximately 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at least once throughout their life. Your spine is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, among other soft tissues. Injuries and/or aggravated conditions, such as herniated discs, can eventually lead to symptoms of sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain. Sports injuries or automobile accident injuries are often the most frequent cause of painful symptoms, however, sometimes the simplest of movements can have these results. Fortunately, alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, can help ease sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, through the utilization of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, ultimately improving pain relief.




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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "How Foods Can Affect Sciatica" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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