Published on November 11, 2014
As the saying goes, “There are many ways to skin a cat.” The same is true for pain management. It is well accepted that a combination of low impact exercise, nutritious diet, hydration, proper sleep, and outside manipulation when needed, can go a long way to reducing or even eliminating pain.
Presently, we are going to focus on some important dietary measures which one should take in order to reduce pain and inflammation in the body. It is important to note that adding helpful nutrients to the diet without eliminating the problematic foods will do little for pain management. There needs to be comprehensive dietary changes for real results. In addition, one needs a bit of patience to reap the full benefits of these changes. It can take a couple weeks to a few months for someone to notice significant differences in the way they feel. However, the wait will be well worth it.
Certain Foods Are Detrimental To Pain Management
Let’s start with some common foods which need to be eliminated in order to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Although it has become a bit of a fad today, it is well documented that many people are gluten sensitive. Gluten, found in all products made from wheat, rye, barley, spelt and hidden in many other products, such as soy sauce, corn muffins, etc., causes inflammation in the body. People often find that removing gluten from their diet creates significant positive changes such as less bloating and gas, better sleep, smoother joint movement and pain reduction.
- Sugar is highly inflammatory and is found in almost all processed foods. The average westerner eats 22 teaspoons a DAY of sugar without ever taking a spoon to the sugar bowl.
- Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol inflame.
- Refined oils, found in all processed foods cause inflammation.
Now, the good news. What should we eat to feel better and heal?
- Go back to basics. Replace all processed food with whole food. If it has a list of ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Stick with vegetables (especially lots of green leafy), fruits, nuts, and animal protein (preferably organic, free range).
- Oily fish (not farm raised), such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines as well as sea algae provide the proper balance of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) which naturally lubricate joints and muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Eat healthy oils such as those from nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil, hemp and flax seed oil. These cleanse and lubricate the body.
- Take a good multi-B vitamin supplement. B vitamins not only help reduce stress but have also been found to enhance the effectiveness of prescription anti-inflammatory medications. In addition, B12 intramuscular injections have been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for low back pain and sciatica.
- Make sure your vitamin D is optimized. If you can’t get enough sunlight without sunscreen (approximately 15 minutes per day) then it is wise to supplement with D3. Vitamin D not only gives a boost to the immune system and fights cancer, but also increases the absorption of calcium leading to greater bone health, proper muscle contraction and the suppression of inflammation.
- Be smart with spices. Add turmeric, black pepper and ginger to your food. All are known for reducing inflammation and pain.
- Snack on cherries. Research has shown that compounds in cherries block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes similar to aspirin.
Eating a vitamin and nutrient dense diet geared towards the reduction of inflammation can reduce pain by nourishing the bones, muscles, discs and other structures in the spine and body. In addition, a diet based on whole foods naturally reduces weight which, in turn, lightens the pressure on the back and joints leading to greater flexibility and healing. Taking these steps can go a long way to lessening reliance on pharmaceuticals or even removing them all together.
Give it a try. Your body will thank you.
About the Author:
Tzivya Fox is a contributor to backandneck.ca. In addition, she runs a healthy, gluten free bakery and is a nutritional consultant.