Healing Foods for Chronic Pain

Fibromyalgia and arthritis are two of the most common forms of chronic pain. Symptoms include inflammation, headaches, aching bones and joints, muscle and tissue pain, nerve pain, fatigue, depression and sleeping disorders. Chronic pain can also originate from some form of trauma, physical injury or infection. When pain becomes chronic and is experienced for many years it can lead to serious diseases and conditions like cancer and heart disease, thus reducing chronic pain is essential.

Physical therapy along with other complementary therapies such as meditation, breathing exercises, posture-correcting exercises, stretching exercises, yoga and tai-chi are all excellent ways to manage pain without the damaging effects of prescription drugs. It is recommended that the average person get 20 minutes up to one hour of physical activity in every day for effective pain management. Keeping the body moving and active is important and these types of therapies will help, just know your limitations.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet of whole fresh foods and avoiding deep-fried, fast and processed foods will also have a significant impact on your health and how your body manages pain. Eating fresh whole foods have been recognized as beneficial in combating pain, whereas foods high in saturated fats and artificial and highly processed ingredients have been identified as triggers. There are also foods that have been recognized as especially beneficial in pain management, these foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, quercitin, carotenoids and magnesium.

Omega-3 fatty acids help to regulate the immune and inflammatory responses in the body. Adding fish to the menu at least twice a week will offer the minimum recommendations of omega-3 to the diet. The best sources for omega-3 include cold-water fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, clams and crab. Other good sources include eggs, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seed.

Quercitin is a flavonoid and a powerful antioxidant known for fighting enzymes that cause inflammation and pain. Quercitin can thin the blood, lower cholesterol, ward off blood clots, inhibit stomach cancer, and fight asthma, bronchitis and other infections. Foods rich in quercitin include yellow and red onions, shallots, celery, tomatoes, spinach, buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, jalapeño, green beans, dried apricots, apples, cherries, cranberries, lemons and red and black grapes.

Carotenoids are antioxidants found in certain foods which have been found to minimize inflammation and strengthen the immune system. Foods high in carotenoids include sweet potatoes, papayas, carrots, mangoes, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, sweet peas, broccoli, butternut squash, cantaloupe, dried apricots, cilantro, plums and red peppers.

Taking a daily dose of magnesium will help relax smooth muscles and blood vessels, promotes healthy bowel function, regulates blood pressure levels and reduces symptoms of chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia. Foods high in magnesium include seaweed, salmon (chinook), spinach, banana, figs, avocado, black beans, basil, coriander, potatoes, quinoa, flaxseed, cashews, almonds, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, cocoa, yogurt and whey.

Garlic is rich in sulphur compounds that stimulate an anti-inflammatory effect, alleviating chronic pain, as well boosts the immune system. Garlic in its raw form will have the greatest effect in reducing pain when added to the menu.

Turmeric root is another powerful spice that has strong anti-inflammatory and pain reducing effects. Studies have found that consuming just a small amount of turmeric daily can help to reduce chronic pain. Turmeric spice is commonly used in Indian cuisine and is what gives curry powder its bright yellow colour. Turmeric can be found in whole root form or in powder form in your local food market; as well can be found in capsules for therapeutic use.

Anthocyanins are antioxidants found in bright and dart coloured foods. Anthocyanins are beneficial for chronic pain as they help battle free radicals that can trigger inflammation. Blueberries are especially known for their high amounts of antioxidants and long list of health benefits. Anthocyanins can be found in blueberries, black currants, asparagus, plums, bananas, red and dark grapes, pomegranates, blackberries, raspberries, cherries and red onions.

Getting enough protein is also especially important in managing pain. Your body needs protein for the maintenance and production of healthy cells and tissues, muscle and cartilage; as well for the healthy production of hormones, antibodies and enzymes that all help keep your body functioning properly. Healthy protein choices include cold water fish like wild Atlantic mackerel, cod, haddock, anchovies, pollock, whitefish, trout and salmon. Lean white meat such as chicken or rabbit; as well eggs, yogurt, beans, chick peas, green peas, quinoa, almonds, walnuts and chia seeds.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic pain through a study done by Greg Plotnikoff, MD at the University of Minnesota Medical School in 2003. Plotnikoff found that by increasing vitamin D levels in patients, relieved chronic pain. It is recommended spending an average of 20 minutes a day in sunshine with arms and legs exposed.

On the other side, there are certain foods that can trigger inflammation and heighten neurotransmitters sensitivity to pain. Avoiding or strictly reducing these foods can also assist in the battle against chronic pain. These foods include sugars, refined grains, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, processed foods, artificial ingredients and fried foods.

Dairy and nightshade fruits and vegetables have also shown to trigger pain in some people more than others. To know whether dairy or nightshades are also triggering pain it is advised to remove them from the menu for 3 to 4 weeks to test if a difference is noticed. Common nightshade fruits and vegetables include tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, gooseberries, goji berries, white and yellow-flesh potatoes, paprika and eggplant.

Written by: J.Marshall

 

Try our Broccoli and Feta Soufflé recipe! Eggs and broccoli are excellent healing foods for Chronic Pain.

 

Try my Baked Cottage Cheese Berry Crepes recipe! Eggs along with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all excellent healing foods for chronic pain.

 

References
•    Mercola: Take care of your health / Foods That Chronic Pain Sufferers Need to Avoid: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/19/foods-that-chronic-pain-sufferers-need-to-avoid.aspx
•    Mercola: Take care of your health / The Worst Possible Thing to Ignore if You Have Arthritis: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/29/omega-3-radically-improve-arthritis.aspx
•    PPM: Practical Pain Management / A Diet for Patients With Chronic Pain: https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/treatments/complementary/diet-patients-chronic-pain
•    PPM: Practical Pain Management / Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Neuropathic Pain: https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/treatments/nutraceutical/omega-3-fatty-acids-neuropathic-pain
•    Arthritis Foundation: Living with Arthritis / The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Arthritis: http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/omega-3-fatty-acids-arthritis/
•    Dr. Axe: Food is Medicine / 7 Proven Benefits of Quercetin / https://draxe.com/quercetin/
•    Quercetin.com / Food Chart: http://www.quercetin.com/overview/food-chart
•    Prohealth / Quercetin: An Impressive Antioxidant for Lyme disease and Interstitial Cystitis: http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=29444
•    NCBI: US National Library of Medicine / Antioxidant, Antinociceptive and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Carotenoids from Dried Pepper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3468166/
•    Progressive Health / Magnesium for Joint Pain: http://www.progressivehealth.com/magnesium-joint-pain.htm
•    Dr. Sircus / Inflammatory and Pain Management with Magnesium: http://drsircus.com/cardiology/inflammation-and-systemic-stress/
•    EveryDay Health / What You Eat May Help Beat Back Pain: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/can-good-diet-fight-back-pain/
•    PaleoLeap / Diet and Chronic Pain: The Paleo Perspective: https://paleoleap.com/diet-and-chronic-pain-paleo-perspective/

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