Can Diet Help Relieve Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain, pain that lasts longer than three months, is a condition that many people struggle with. Oftentimes people resort to using prescription painkillers, many of which come with lists of side effects and long-term use of these products can lead to liver damage, a weakened immune system, increased tolerance of the drug, and more. So, how can you manage chronic pain, or better yet, relieve pain entirely?
In many cases, chronic pain is caused by inflammation. Inflammation is a double-edged sword: on one hand, inflammation is essential in helping our bodies heal; but on the other hand, when inflammation gets out of control, it can lead to a variety of issues, including pain associated with aging. So, when you’re struggling with chronic pain, an anti-inflammatory diet may serve as alternative medicine that provides relief without unnecessary side effects like fogginess, dry mouth, and other long-term risks of traditional pharmaceutical medicines.
At ICNR (International Center for Nutritional Research), we are passionate about better understanding the link between the foods we consume and how the body functions. For centuries, Chinese alternative medicine has shown us that there are dozens of methods for managing symptoms of a range of conditions and diseases. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to traditional prescription medication, get in touch with Dr. Gerald H. Smith at ICNR.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Managing Chronic Painba
Beans, Nuts, and Seeds
Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds — these foods are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They also provide a rich source of protein and fiber.
Fruits and Vegetables
Any type of berry, cherries, and pomegranate, red, yellow, and orange peppers, spinach, kale, broccoli, squash, and cucumber — diets rich in fruits and vegetables help lower C-reactive protein levels, which is a marker for inflammation. These foods are high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and essential vitamins and minerals. Berries and cherries are high in anthocyanins, which are plant compounds with antioxidant effects, helping reduce inflammation. When it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, it’s all about color. Be sure to consume a large variety of colors and be sure to focus on dark, leafy greens.
Olive oil (extra virgin), walnut oil, avocado oil, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring — omega-3 fatty acids have been known to help reduce inflammation. Olive oil actually contains compounds similar to Ibuprofen, and it’s when used as a base for salad dressings. When shopping for salmon, look for wild salmon, which is healthier to eat than farmed salmon. Varieties of canned fish are also a great option.
Herbs and Spices
Ginger, turmeric, garlic, rosemary, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper — many of these herbs and spices are considered to be adaptogens, which may help with symptoms of arthritis that are caused by inflammation. Many of these herbs are used in teas, or the spices can be incorporated into the meals you eat. Turmeric is a popular ingredient in Indian dishes like curries.
Foods to Avoid
When struggling with chronic pain caused by inflammation, it’s important to consider the foods you should include in your diet as well as foods that should be avoided.
- Red meat like beef should only be eaten sparingly.
- Processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunch meat.
- Oils and fats, like margarine, corn oil, and soybean oils – fried foods – should be avoided.
- Soda, fruit juice, coffee, and energy drinks, or any drink with an excess amount of added sugar.
- Processed breads or sweets like donuts, cakes, and brownies.
2 Diet Basics
If you’re looking for alternative medicine that can help treat chronic pain, there are three rules that you should try to follow:
- Eat the Rainbow: When you look at your plate, make sure there are greens, reds, yellows, and blues. When your plate is mostly brown, it typically means it’s a lot of starchy foods and carbohydrates.
- Limit Dairy and Grains: Keep dairy to a minimum and choose whole grains over simple carbohydrates with refined sugar.
- Avoid Red Meat: Limit beef, steak, ribs, stir-frys, etc. to twice a week and include other proteins, like fish, chicken or turkey (that isn’t from the deli).
It’s amazing what a healthy diet can do for our bodies. If you’re struggling with chronic pain, an anti-inflammatory diet could be an alternative treatment. If you want to know more about alternative medicine and what they can do for ailments that you may be struggling with, get in touch with ICNR for a consultation.