Sciatica: What Foods and Habits Must Avoid

In the previous article, I analyze what Sciatica- lower back pain- is sciatica symptoms and facts about lower back pain.

Let’s face it: We all deal with back pain. In 2009, the CDC reported nearly 30 percent of adults dealt with some form of back pain. However, when that intermittent soreness turns into a burning, tingling sensation that travels down your thigh, you may have a more serious condition, called sciatica.

Named after the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back to the back of each leg, this condition isn’t just a case of soreness–it’s a painful condition where the nerve is irritated, either due to a degenerative disc disease or narrowing of the spine’s canal.

You’ll recognize the tell-tale symptoms immediately: It feels like something is burning down the rear of your leg, along with other unpleasant symptoms, such as numbness or weakness of the foot and constant, debilitating pain.

Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way to the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes.


Sciatica: What Foods and Habits Must Avoid

Avoid smoking and excessive use of alcohol, as they can deplete the body of vital nutrients needed for bone health. Nicotine especially irritates the sciatic nerve.

Avoid sugar, especially processed bleached sugar should be eliminated.

Avoid the insomnia drug Ambien, which has been linked to sciatica in some people. Consult your physician for alternatives.

Avoid spicy, greasy, or fried foods, as well as dairy and other foods that create dampness, should also be avoided.

Avoid stress, worry, and tension, as these emotions irritate the nervous system and predispose you to sciatica.

Avoid poor posture- always sit with your back erect with support in the lumbar area. Do not sit for prolonged periods on hard surfaces. If you carry a wallet, take it out of your rear pocket when sitting. Take frequent breaks at work and stretch your lower back and buttocks.


Added sugars are ingredients that add sweet flavor and calories, but few nutrients to foods. They are also high-glycemic, meaning they have a significant impact on your blood sugar levels. A high-glycemic diet can increase inflammation, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. A sugar-rich diet also leaves less room for beneficial, anti-inflammatory foods, such as 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.

Saturated fat can also increase inflammation. For overall wellness, the American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your total daily calories. Common sources include red and processed meats, dark-meat poultry, poultry skin, high-fat dairy products, fried foods and egg yolks. To potentially reduce pain and inflammation associated with sciatica, replace saturated fat in your diet with omega-3 fatty acids — healthy fats with anti-inflammatory properties. Top sources include cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, canola oil, and walnuts.