‘Pseudostressors’ in Your Diet can Contribute to Back Pain

When you think about the origin or cause of back pain, it’s unlikely that the first thought to come into your head is your food or drink, but substances contained in your diet may actually contribute to the pain that you feel in your back.

While not a primary contributing factor for chronic back pain, ‘pseudostressors’ in the diet can lead to involuntary muscle tightness, and it is this mechanism that can influence back pain. We know that muscle tightness can be quite painful, that much of the underlying source of back pain is muscle tightness and that people with chronic back pain tend to have a strong muscle contraction in the back muscles in response to stress, compared with people who do not have back pain or recover quickly when they do experience back pain.

So, it is important to consider all of the sources of muscle tightness, including those in the diet, referred to as ‘pseudostressors’. The name comes from the fact that these substances result in a physiological stress response not related to typical stressors such as a hectic schedule, life changes, etc.

Pseudostressors in the diet include:

  • Any food or beverage that contains caffeine. Caffeine is the predominant pseudostressor for most of us and can come from our coffee, tea, soda or energy drink, but may also be added to foods and medications. Chocolate and products that contain chocolate also contain caffeine – the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine.
  • There is a host of new ‘energy’ products that contain caffeine – Perky Jerky beef jerky, Morning Spark Instant Oatmeal, SumSeeds Energized Sunflower Seeds, alcoholic energy drinks, and energy water, to name a few in this rapidly-expanding category.
  • Some medications, such as weight-loss pills and pain relievers, also have caffeine in them, so be sure to check your labels.
  • Jolt, maker of the highly-caffeinated Jolt soda, now makes other products with added caffeine: caffeinated gum, mints, and breath fresheners.
  • An often overlooked category of pseudostressor is substances that are foreign to the body that can cause a stress response. Processed foods and foods or drinks that contain sugar can cause a stress response in your body, as well as having an effect on blood sugar regulation and imbalances in brain chemistry.

So, if you want complete relief from back pain, first lay a solid foundation of challenging your beliefs about back pain, reversing the cycle of pain, addressing the three primary contributing factors, and then look at everything else that can cause a stress response in your body, particularly food and drinks that are processed or contain caffeine.

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