Pain Pathways Magazine recently published an article on the link between our food choices and how we feel. How we nourish our bodies, and the amount of food eaten can play a role in how our bodies react.

Here is a portion of the article…

Chronic pain can make life seem out of one’s control; the ability to control pain through nutrition can be a powerful, useful tool. It’s important to note that individuals who are overweight typically suffer from increased pain levels and don’t receive the same degree of pain relief from the typical treatments and pain interventions as individuals that are of a healthy weight.

A challenge for people who live with chronic pain is that the pain may preoccupy thoughts and cause an individual to ignore the body’s hunger signals. Pain can also impact one’s physical abilities, making it difficult to stand for lengthy periods, shop for groceries or cook. For some suffering from chronic pain, food may be the only pleasurable aspect of a daily routine, possibly resulting in overconsumption and subsequent weight gain. A body suffering from a lack of nutrients as well as a body overloaded with excess weight is at risk for an intensified level of pain, a decreased benefit from pain treatments and an overall increase in systemic inflammation.

To help control inflammation, decrease pain and enhance quality of life, it is important to know what foods to choose. Anti-inflammatory foods are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals. These include cold-water fish, a variety of spices, fruits and vegetables. Pro-inflammatory foods typically have a high glycemic load (how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level), contain empty calories, are highly processed, contain preservatives and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. These include packaged foods, animal products and many oils.

One of the most overlooked aspects of a western diet is herbs and spices. just like foods, herbs and spices contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that help combat inflammation. In particular, turmeric is well known as a potent anti-inflammatory spice. Turmeric is composed of curcuminoids, a group of polyphenols. Curcumin suppresses the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Let the spice-rich cuisines of India, Moroccco, or Thailand inspire greater creativity in the kitchen. Include turmeric, red pepper, black pepper, licorice, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, ginger, cayenne, garlic, coriander, oregano, and rosemary in your meals. The liberal use of spices is a safe, cost-effective way to obtain anti-inflammatory benefits from food.

Battling chronic pain requires a multifactorial approach. It is becoming increasingly apparent that obesity, diet and physical activity play an important role in pain management. Even small substitutions in food choices or a 5% decrease in body weight can significantly reduce pain. Start out small. Instead of that daily bag of potato chips, try one-half cup of vitamin C-rich strawberries and reap the benefits of plant-based eating.

Pain Pathways Magazine
February 2015

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