Eat Away your Pain

Sep 12, 2022
Healthy Eating

PAIN - the very word can quickly bring a negative connotation with it.  No one likes to be in pain - especially chronic pain. Pain is very personal. It can be affected by many lifestyle factors: sleep, exercise, stress/trauma and nutrition to name a few. When our bodies get stressed and are out of balance, inflammation starts to take root and can manifest in a multitude of areas.  Autoimmune diseases, lack of sleep, unchecked/ongoing stress, diets high in processed foods, and minimal exercise/activities, have been proven to be potential pain producers.  Although pain can be hard to define due to the individuality of experience, it is something we all experience at some time in our lives, even the seemingly healthiest of us.  I think we could all agree that pain is something we don’t want hanging around for any length of time.

The good news is that Nutrition intervention has been found in multiple studies to have a significant impact with helping to reduce inflammation markers and  pain.  The right food choices can have an impact on healing and provide nourishment for the body.  Our mindset around food choices is essential to making positive changes that last. A valuable question that I like to ask my clients here is,  What story is playing in your mind when a change needs to be made?  Oftentimes I hear that change is hard, uncomfortable and that there is little buy-in into the benefits of change. However, when you change the narrative of your inner conversation to adapt the fact that small change can add up to a huge impact and there is ease in adding value to your health, you can begin to regain control of the vehicle of your life. This makes healthier food choices for pain management and prevention worthwhile, and even empowering.

Our food sources have changed drastically in the past 30 years.  We have a considerable amount of choices with food, especially packaged foods, that have introduced chemicals and toxins to our bodies.  These can lead to increased levels of systemic inflammation, thus contributing to pain in our bodies.  

So the question remains, how can we reduce and minimize processed food in our diets?  There are quite a few swaps we can make with food and drink to help minimize pain.  For example:

Chose a diet rich in nutrient dense foods. “A food is considered nutrientdense when it packs a lot of healthy nutrients (healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) in a small package. For a diet to be nutrient dense, generally the majority of the foods in it possess some type of health-promoting quality.” Nutrient-dense whole foods that are nourishing and anti-inflammatory include:

  • Fruits/Vegetables
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Beans/Lentils 
  • Quality whole grains like quinoa, oats, wild rice, buckwheat, bulgar, spelt, etc
  • Minimally processed meats like wild caught fish/seafood, animals that are antibiotic and hormone free,  free-range, and/or grass-fed.  

Stay hydrated. Drinking at least half your bodyweight in water a day is ideal for pain management and prevention. if you live in a warm environment and/or exercise and sweat a lot, be sure to replace minerals. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.  

Choose organic whenever possible.  Opting for organic can be a more sure way to reduce pesticide and toxic chemical consumption from fruits, vegetables and grains.  We do know that the greater the toxic load to our bodies,  the harder it is to reduce inflammation, making it harder to alleviate and minimize pain.  

Significantly reduce added sugar intake.  Recommendations for men are less than 36 grams/women less than 25 grams of added sugar daily - but if you can aim for even less, that can enhance your results.  

Wash and peel. Conventionally grown fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly to remove excess depri and toxins. Peel the skins when possible can also help rid of these unwanted extras.

Cook at home. When your hands are in the kitchen so to speak, you have better control of the quality of the foods you are preparing and putting in your body.  It can help you save money too.   

Focus on dark colored vegetables and fruits. Dark colors/pigments typically indicate free radical content which helps free radical damage that causes inflammation. 

Some specific foods that have been found to help with decreasing inflammation and pain: 

  • Tart cherries 
  • Blueberries (all berries) 
  • Pineapple 
  • Celery 
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy 
  • Broccoli
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Pumpkin seeds 
  • Walnuts 
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Bone broth (from grass fed/free range animals)
  • Salmon 
  • Coconut oil 
  • Olive oil 

Other considerations include reducing or eliminating dairy and/or gluten for 4-6 weeks to promote gut healing, and then gradually adding it back in with good quality sources to see which foods might be triggers for your pain receptors. I also recommend finding a good balance with whole foods to packaged food; maybe it’s a 80/20 or 90/10 approach. As the unique individual that you are, it is up to you to find what works best for you.  It’s not about perfection but about consistency with healthier choices.  LEARN MORE

Nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle for managing chronic pain.  Wellview has a wide range of health care providers that can help with pain management and nutrition. Click HERE to learn about all of our Wellview Services today. We look forward to connecting with you soon. 

– Marjorie Jarrett

Registered Dietitian | Email Marjorie

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