You Are What You Eat
If you are one of the 50 million Americans living with chronic pain, chances are you’ve tried everything under the sun to find relief. Although modern medicine has come leaps and bounds in recent years, many people are still struggling and living with unimaginable pain. This is just one of the reasons why some are seeking alternative solutions to pain management. In years past, the “go-to” for many people living with pain was opioids and other manufactured drugs. Unfortunately, we have seen firsthand how dangerous this can be. While there is undoubtedly a time and place for pain medications and numerous instances where they are used properly, more than 700,000 people have died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017.
These numbers are shocking. Coupled with the fact that 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids in 2018 alone, it is no wonder we need an alternative to managing pain. In recent years, scientists, nutritionists, and doctors alike have been shifting their attention to diet. And no, we aren’t talking about the latest fad diet to hit your newsfeed. Research shows that what we eat can impact our system in many different ways, including how the body responds to and processes pain.
The purpose of today’s article is to take a closer look at diet and how certain foods may reduce inflammation and pain. As a leading regenerative medicine pain clinic, we strive to find solutions for patients suffering from a range of conditions. Instead of popping a pill next time you feel a twinge in your back, we encourage you to take a look at the foods you are eating and how they may be affecting your condition. We are here to help you come up with a safe and effective pain management plan for the coming year that considers your lifestyle. If chronic pain has been part of your life for as long as you can remember, the notion of merely changing the way you eat to reduce symptoms may seem far-fetched. With an open mind and some inflammation-fighting foods in your diet, you, too, can overcome chronic pain.
Common Causes of Chronic Pain
Understanding the most common causes of chronic pain is a great place to start. The human body is an incredible system with many different moving parts. When one or more of these parts suffer trauma or are compromised because of disease or illness, it can wreak havoc on the whole body. Often, the brain sends pain signals to an area of the body as a way of overcompensating for another problem. It is important to remember just how powerful the mind is and the role it plays in chronic pain management.
Let’s now look at some of the most common types of chronic pain:
- Back pain
- Slipped or bulging discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Fractures from osteoporosis
- Soft tissue damage
- Spinal fractures
- Joint pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Postsurgical pain
- Post-trauma pain
- Cancer pain
- Arthritis pain
- Nerve pain
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Pain caused by nerve damage
- Psychogenic pain
Underlying causes of chronic pain can vary, but may include the following:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
The American Academy of Pain Medicine estimates that more than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Foods That Help Reduce Pain
Making an effort to avoid foods and drinks that cause inflammation is the first place to start. As you will see in a moment, there are MANY different foods known to reduce chronic pain, improve your mood, and address other health concerns. Diet plays an integral role in our overall health and happiness. According to the American Cancer Society, 20 percent of all cancers are related to diet and lack of exercise. In addition to some cancers, an unhealthy diet can cause a myriad of health problems, including chronic pain.
If getting healthy and reducing discomfort was one of your resolutions this year, it may be time to analyze your eating habits. After all, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to take the fun out of food. In fact, there are tons of different ways to integrate beneficial ingredients into your diet and still enjoy the meals you eat. Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, after all. One of the biggest misconceptions about anti-inflammatory diets is that you’ll be stuck eating leafy greens for every meal. Not true.
Here is a look at some of the foods known to fight inflammation and, in turn, reduce chronic pain:
- Spices (turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, rosemary, cayenne pepper, black pepper)
- Proteins (beef, fish, poultry, eggs, cottage cheese, pork, lamb)
- Green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, romaine, arugula, green beans, peas, lettuce, celery, brussels sprouts)
- Fruits (berries, cherries, pomegranates, and other dark-colored fruits)
- Peppers (yellow, orange, and red)
- Olive oil
- Coldwater fish (salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel)
- Dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa or higher)
Do Certain Foods Cause Inflammation and Joint Pain?
Just as there are anti-inflammatory foods that can reduce joint pain, there are many other foods that cause inflammation. If you have arthritis or another inflammatory condition, be sure to avoid the following foods and drinks:
- Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
- Artificial trans fats
- Processed foods
- Refined sugar and sugar alternatives (corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, or maltose)
- Fried foods
- Refined carbohydrates
- White bread
- Oils like margarine, shortening, and lard
Reducing your intake of these foods and integrating the anti-inflammatory ingredients mentioned above is an excellent place to start if you are using diet to eliminate chronic pain. As always, discuss changing your diet with your doctor before making any drastic adjustments. After all, every person is different and may have unique dietary needs. If you have questions about any of the above or would like to learn more about how you can overcome chronic pain naturally, without the help of prescription drugs, contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today.