for Urban Professionals & Other Skeptics in a Rush

← Back to Blog

Project back relief #3: Let food be thy medicine.

March 22, 2013 in Physical Health

There are powerful anti-inflammatories on the market, and I hope you never have to take any of them.  You may be able to decrease inflammation by changing your diet.


Now you’ll notice if you look at just about any diet around (with the exception of Atkins), that they all suggest eating more fruits and vegetables, less meat, and even less processed carbohydrates and refined sugars.  That’s because these are excellent guidelines, whatever name the diet is given!  If you remember nothing else, start there.

An “anti-inflammatory” diet adds on a few more specific recommendations:

  • Eat more Omega 3 essential fatty acids.  These are found in walnuts, flax, hemp, and oily fish.  They are “essential” because we can’t make them, so we have to ingest them.  They are also literally essential for brain health, and are known to be anti-inflammatory.
  • Reduce – and I mean dramatically reduce your consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates (I feel like a broken record with this one).   When glucose is high, protein and sugar react in the body to create pro-inflammatory “AGEs” (advanced glycation products).
  • If you’re an omnivore (and especially if you’re a carnivore), try replacing animal proteins with vegetable proteins, such as lentils, legumes, and whole (not processed) soy products.

As ever, the only way to know if this will work for you is to try it.  Here’s a sample daily menu to give you some ideas about how to try on this anti-inflammatory way of eating.


None other than my favorite “brown” smoothie, which if you are not hooked on yet, you will be soon.  Swirl in some lemon fish oil (I know that sounds awful, but if your back really hurts, why not try it for a week and see how you feel?).


Hearty salad with roasted root vegetables (diced, tossed in olive oil and sea salt, and roasted the night before, or even a few days before, at 375 for 45 minutes), your favorite raw greens, whole cooked spelt or quinoa, walnuts, and an olive-oil based dressing (olive oil, lemon and a little dijon make a great home made dressing).


Mediterranean lentil soup, wild salmon or black cod with maple miso and oranges, love my greens salad with hempseeds and olive oil-flax oil dressing.  This menu calls for some recipes…

Excellent Lentil soup

Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 shallot, 1 cup red lentils, ½ cup short grain brown rice, 4tbsp olive oil, 6 cups vegetable stock, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 lemon.  I think the shallot takes this one over the top.

  • Sautee chopped onion and shallot in olive oil over medium heat, until translucent
  • Rinse lentils and rice well, and add them and the cumin to the pot, stirring for a minute.
  • Add stock and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
  • Salt and pepper to taste, and add the juice of one lemon.
  • I should have said this up front…make a double recipe and freeze half.  This is a keeper.

Maple-miso glazed fish

Ingredients: fatty fish filet of your choice, 1/3 cup miso, 1 tbsp maple syrup, ½ shallot, 1 inch piece of ginger, 1 orange.

  • Turn the broiler in your oven to high.
  • Blend miso, maple syrup, dices or grated shallot and diced or grated fresh ginger with a hand blender, blender, or fork.
  • Rinse fish filet and place on parchment paper or foil on baking tray, then pat dry.
  • Spread miso mixture on fish, and cover with thinly sliced orange rounds.
  • Broil fish on medium rack for 7-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet.
  • Impress anyone.

Love me and my greens salad

Ingredients: your favorite salad greens, microgreens, sprouts, avocado, baby cucumber, hemp seeds, flax oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, fresh cilantro, fresh mint.

  • Rinse your greens well and mix them in a proportion that makes you excited to eat them.
  • Slice the avocado, baby cucumber, mint and cilantro, and throw them on top like Picasso.
  • Mix 1tbsp flax oil, 4tbsp olive oil, 2tbsp balsamic vinegar, and a few shakes of salt and pepper together in a glass jar (by shaking it), or in a cup using a fork.
  • Pour home made dressing on greens, thereby reinventing “salad” for you and anyone who has the pleasure of joining you for this micronutrient rich, memories of Southeast-Asia, “salad”.

If you’re paying attention, you know that this is installment number 3 of 5 on back pain.  I’ve got two more practices that I hope will have a positive impact on your back, your mood, and your life.  In that order.

…and the runner up is (back relief practice #2)
Find what you’re storing in your low back (#4).
Get great resources just like this delivered straight to your inbox