Do you suffer from chronic pain? Ouch! But you may be surprised to learn that you can help minimize your pain through your food choices. Yes that’s right, what you may be eating can contribute to chronic pain, and on the flip side, you can choose to incorporate certain foods that may help alleviate pain.
Ready to create a diet that supports you in feeling your best? Here are 10 foods that may cause pain, and 10 that alleviate it.
We’ve often discussed how gluten intolerance can lead to stomach and intestinal pain, but did you know that eating gluten can also cause all-over pain? A recent study showed that many people had a sensitivity to gluten in which the body saw gluten as a foreign pathogen and released inflammation to fight it. An inflammatory response can be very painful, and if you are gluten intolerant but ingest gluten on a regular basis, you may have chronic inflammation causing widespread pain. Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some processed oats. It is also in many processed foods. So the happy bi-product of resolving to go gluten-free also means you will also have to give up most of all processed foods! You will feel so much better without them, as you find much better alternatives (see below!)
Egg yolks contain arachidonic acid, which studies have shown is one of the main fatty acids involved in inflammation. Diets high in arachindonic acid may lead to a constant level of inflammation, and thus, pain.
Meat, particularly red meat, can contribute to chronic pain in a few ways. First, meat is high in purines. When you ingest dietary purines, your body breaks them down into uric acid, which can cause the excruciatingly painful condition, gout. Likewise, meat is also high in fats containing arachindonic acid, which can cause inflammation and pain.
Milk products can contribute to pain in a few ways. First, milk contains lactose, a sugar that is very difficult for the human body to digest. For people with lactose intolerance, consumption of dairy products can bring about gastrointestinal pain or discomfort. Milk products can also contribute to all over inflammatory pain because milk contains high levels of the protein casein. Because so many people have difficulty processing casein, it can lead to a painful inflammatory response in the human body.
Studies show that this artificial sweetener, also known as NutraSweet, can cause headaches.
6. Trans fats
According to the Mayo Clinic trans fats may increase inflammation in your body, which can cause all-over pain and discomfort.
According to WebMD, research shows that drinking as few as two beers each week can increase your risk of getting the painful condition gout by a quarter. And the more beer you drink, the higher your chances of getting gout are – drinkers who had two beers per day had a 200 percent increased chance of getting the disease. That’s most likely because beer is high in purines, which convert to uric acid in the body.
8. Fried foods
Many foods are fried in oils high in omega-6 fatty acids. While your body needs a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the key word is balance. Unfortunately, the typical Western diet lacks this balance. According to one study, the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio should be 1:1; however, in the typical Western diet it is about 1:15 or even more out of whack! Omega-6 fats at this high of a level in the human body are pro-inflammatory, which can lead to inflammation and chronic pain.
9. Processed foods
These foods (those that come in a bag, box, package, or can) may cause chronic pain and inflammation for a number of reasons. Some of the pain causing ingredients you may find in processed foods include gluten, trans fats, high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, and artificial chemicals.
Pain Relieving Foods
1. Dark leafy greens
Greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are high in antioxidants and nutrients that fight oxidative stress. According to Arthritis Today, eating greens can also help prevent the painful condition, osteoporosis. This is because greens create a state of alkalinity in your body, which helps to balance out acidity without demineralizing your bones, and helps your body maintain these minerals.
2. Raw walnuts
Walnuts are high in omega-3 fats, which can help to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which fights inflammation and pain. Try pulsing them in the blender or food processor with some fresh basil and other herbs for a yummy nut pate that you can top salads with.
These fruits are high in vitamin K. In their book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, James and Phyllis Balch describe how vitamin K reduces pain and other arthritis symptoms.
4. Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables like kelp and dulse contain fucoidans – polysaccharides that studies have shown to reduce pain. Sea veggies are also great for providing lots of trace minerals, as well as B vitamins and iron.
These delicious berries are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are powerful pain fighters. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which can damage cells and cause pain, while omega-3 fats fight inflammation. At Glow Bio we have a smoothie called Rainforest Acai Beauty, which pays homage to this amazing berry.
A recent study showed that ginger decreased muscle pain by 25 percent. Ginger can also soothe stomach pain, and evidence also exists showing ginger may be effective at relieving the pain of osteoarthritis. Try making my Detox Tea!
Studies have shown that tart cherry juice is high in anti-oxidants and may relieve the pain of osteoarthritis. Since they aren’t in season right now, you could try getting some organic, frozen cherries and making a simple smoothie out of them.
According to the National Institutes of Health, turmeric may be effective for relieving stomach upset, as well as the pain of osteoarthritis. I love the taste of turmeric. Try working it into your dishes, or try my Curry-Turmeric Veggie Quinoa dish.
Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, and therefore pain. Try grinding 1 Tbs. fresh and topping soups and salads with it.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you, and that you can start eating your way to feeling better and better!