One of the main factors in managing chronic pain is making smart lifestyle choices. Along with getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, eating a nutritious diet has a big impact on the severity of chronic pain, which in turn affects overall quality of life. The types of food you consume can help or hinder your journey to pain relief in a variety of ways.
One of the most significant issues has to do with inflammation and how certain foods contribute to it. Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury or an infection. You may experience symptoms like pain, heat, redness, and swelling, otherwise known as acute inflammation. Other times, inflammation becomes chronic (think of it as happening over and over again), at which point it can really start to wreak havoc on the body. Over time, chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells and organs and cause consistent pain in muscles, tissues, and joints.
Many foods are known to cause and/or increase inflammation in the body, including sugar, dairy, gluten, trans fat, and refined grains. Reducing intake of these foods is an important first step to reducing pain causing inflammation. Follow that up by eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3’s reduces inflammation in the body, decreasing muscle and joint pain.
Maintaining a healthy weight also goes a long way in managing chronic pain. When you gain weight, your joints are put under more stress and your muscles have to work harder to perform regular functions. The heavier you get, the greater the impact on your body. Over time this can result in significant pain.
Many of the same foods that lead to inflammation are also the main culprits in weight gain, particularly simple carbohydrates like sugar, and the saturated fats found in foods like butter, fatty meats, and most baked treats.
However, most of the foods that reduce inflammation are also the best foods for controlling weight gain, particularly fruits, vegetables, and legumes like beans, peas, and nuts. That means you can tackle inflammation and weight management by making the same dietary choices!
The Chemical Effect
Pretty much all of the foods we eat are loaded with chemicals. Some of them are good and allow our bodies to carry out most of their daily functions. Others are not so good and can negatively impact our bodies.
Heavily refined, sugary, and chemically processed foods are known to irritate muscles, disrupt sleep, and interfere with immune function – three things that can enhance chronic pain. Aspartame, a chemical sweetener used in diet soft drinks, has also been found to heighten pain sensitivity in some fibromyalgia patients.
There is a small subset of vegetables known as “nightshade vegetables,” which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. While these veggies still have a number of healthy properties, they contain mild neurotoxins that can increase joint pain and arthritis symptoms in some individuals. While many will experience no difference, some sensitive patients may improve remarkably by keeping nightshade vegetable intake to a minimum.
Healthy Food for a Healthy Life
It is a fact that we heal quicker when we are well nourished. We can maintain a healthy weight and keep our bodies functioning at their best when we choose to eat a diet rich in fresh, nutritious foods. Try eating a wide variety of foods by eating colors of the rainbow to make your plates bright and nutritious. When choosing food items aim for quality. Ideally that would be grass-fed and pasture raised meats, as they support the highest nutrient levels. Aim for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods when possible. And try to also consume dairy products and red meat in limited quantities.
Eating a nutritious diet may not completely eliminate your chronic pain, but it is a step in the right direction that you can control. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can help reverse or reduce some conditions such as developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes. There is no magical food that can make everything better, but, eating the right combination of foods can help produce remarkable results.
Pain Management with Twin Cities Pain Clinic
Incorporating a healthy diet is an excellent way to help keep your chronic pain at a manageable level. But if you have been suffering from chronic pain for a long time and want to explore options for additional pain relief, contact Twin Cities Pain Clinic. Our team of clinically trained experts are highly specialized in the treatment of pain and can prescribe a care plan that will help you get back to living your best life.
Call: (952) 841-2345