Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Pain Relief

Diet For Pain Relief
If you’ve been trying to reduce overall aches and pains but have hit a bit of a roadblock, you might be able to move the needle by making a few small dietary changes. Some main dietary contributors that can increase pain are a lack of hydration, insufficient fiber, and too many processed foods. Making a few changes in just these areas can make a huge difference.

Stay Hydrated 

About 70 percent of the body including muscles and joints is made up of water. Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration, causing your muscles and joints to become less lubricated and stiff. It can also lead to faster degeneration of the spine and the discs over time. Not drinking enough can also lead to headaches, low blood pressure, and insufficient fluids to flush toxins out of the body, which can lead to more pain and inflammation.

Mineral levels are also depleted when you are dehydrated. Due to their importance for the basic function and repair of many systems in your body, supplementation may be required if you’re not replacing these minerals within your diet.

Fiber

Slowly increasing your fiber intake (along with water) can help reduce inflammation, which can subsequently reduce pain. Eating fiber pulls sugar out of the body (that’s a good thing); sugar increases inflammation and leads to other physiological problems that may also contribute to increased pain in the body. Fiber also cleans out the intestines to ensure we don't have food and waste lingering for too long and getting reabsorbed into the body.

Processed Foods 

Another huge contributor to inflammation is processed foods, which the body will eventually break down into sugar. I encourage you to take a look at your diet and log your food for a week or two (yes, there are apps for that). You may be surprised at how much sugar is being consumed, even though you’re not eating anything sweet! 

“While it’s beneficial to remove or swap out inflammatory foods, you can increase some anti-inflammatory foods as well.” 

These days, a lot of our foods are highly processed even if we cook everything at home. Most flour, for example, is processed to some degree, with white and bleached flour being the most processed. Switching to a more fiber-rich flour (such as a whole grain), or reducing flour usage in general, might be worth trying if you’ve been cooking with it in excess. Cooking oils are also inflammatory, but avocado or olive oil are two of the better options. Using avocado oil for higher-heat cooking and olive oil for lower heat is best.

You can also include coconut oil and butter in moderation for medium-heat cooking or baking. Switching from the more inflammatory oils like vegetable, corn, canola, sunflower, grapeseed, and safflower—as well as margarine—to these better choices could make a difference in your inflammation and pain levels over time. 

While it’s beneficial to remove or swap out inflammatory foods, you can increase some anti-inflammatory foods as well. These fiber-rich nutrient foods include cruciferous veggies, greens, nuts and seeds, berries, and fatty fish (follow the acronym SMASH: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and herring). There are some spices you can use in your cooking and baking that may help too, such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, or garlic.

If you would like a more structured approach to eating or more guidance, the Mediterranean diet or a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) might be right for you. Even within these diets’ guidelines, there may be ways to customize the foods you eat to make them specific to your needs.

Nutrition and diet are very individualized when taking into account a person’s specific conditions and symptoms, so it’s worthwhile to consult with your healthcare practitioner to figure out what works for you. Remember, what’s good for your Aunt Minnie, may not be right for you.

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