If you’ve had pain that has lasted for more than 12 weeks, the chances are that you are frustrated AND in pain. And…well, that just isn’t any fun.
Individuals who suffer from chronic pain have the potential to pop pills of all types–from what seems to be innocent anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or Advil–to more addicting forms, such as pain killers. But did you know that small shifts in your diet could yield even better results?
Let’s take a look at several foods which have the potential to relieve your chronic pain–or add to it. We will also look at the specific reasons, biologically and chemically, that make these foods good for reducing inflammation–or are actually increasing inflammation.
Bring on the cherries and berries.
All fruits have antioxidants, which are important for reducing pain and inflammation. When tissues swell or become inflamed, there is increased pressure on nerves and decreased circulation–both of which result in pain. Cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries are rich in anthocyanins, which are chemicals that relieve pain. Did you also know that the vitamin C in these fruits provides additional benefits? Vitamin C is used by your body to build and repair joint cartilage, as well as reduce C-reactive proteins (CRP), which are chemical markers for inflammation.
Make olive oil your best friend.
It is widely known that extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy oil, but this oil also contains a substance called oleocanthol, which interferes with two of the inflammatory enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. People who ingest olive oil have lower levels of prostaglandins–which are the same pain-causing neurotransmitters that are blocked by aspirin.
Take a trip down the seafood aisle.
If you are a seafood lover–there’s great news! Cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids are among the most potent anti-inflammatory agents. Adding more salmon, sardines, and trout into your diet can help with morning stiffness and joint tenderness. If you aren’t a seafood lover, take fish-oil supplements instead.
Ditch sugar ASAP.
It’s no surprise that sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies. From weight gain to obesity to cardiovascular damage, sugar is one hazardous substance! What most people don’t know is that consuming sugar also increases pain. A high-sugar diet causes the body to produce a substance known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This substance triggers massive amounts of inflammation, resulting in chronic pain. Your best bet is to rid your diet of high glycemic foods such as sugar, white bread, white rice and other simple carbohydrates that are quickly converted into sugar during digestion.
Lay off the alcohol.
Alcohol is converted to sugar, and you just read about the terrible effects sugar has on pain and inflammation. Alcohol also irritates the intestinal tissue, allowing bacteria to pass into the bloodstream more readily. This bacteria…you guessed it…increases inflammation, even if it doesn’t lead to infection.
Keep your water glass full.
Drinking water is a must. You should consume between 8 and 10 glasses a day–minimum! Water helps the kidneys and liver filter toxins (like pesticide residues) from your body. Water also dilutes the concentration of toxins in your blood and reduces the inflammatory effects. As a side note, green tea, steeped in water, provides your body with catechins. These are antioxidants that reduce inflammation and pain.
As you can see, simple shifts in your daily diet will make a big difference in your overall health. Start a new eating plan today!