There are two ways to look at managing pain naturally through food. First, get rid of the junk food that causes inflammation, lowers your immune system and clogs up your digestion. Second, incorporate foods that support your body through whole nutrition and that may add some pain-fighting benefits to your plate.
Dump the Junk
Processed foods and refined carbohydrates are terrible on your body. Trans-fats raise bad cholesterol, so avoid anything containing partially hydrogenated oils. Refined grains increase insulin resistance and may contribute to higher blood pressure. Added sodium hidden in processed foods puts a great burden on your kidneys and heart, and causes you to retain water. High fructose corn syrup has been shown to interfere with weight loss and encourage overeating.
Add this all together and you find that junk food works against you in your efforts to manage pain. You need a healthy heart and healthy elimination systems as the foundation of a pain management program.
For more information about these four nutrition disasters, read this article in Reader’s Digest.
What can you eat instead? Omega-3 Fats
Nutritionists and doctors now understand that a diet rich in omega-3 fats helps prevent inflammation and reduce symptoms of arthritis, one of the most painful chronic conditions. Oily salt-water fish such as salmon, herring and sardines are good sources of omega-3 fats, and true grass-fed beef has a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Oily fish also contain significant trace amounts of Vitamin D, which keeps inflammation in check.
Another good fat is olive oil. Researchers have studied the so-called Mediterranean diet, which incorporates olive oil almost exclusively. It has been shown to reduce pain and stiffness (not overnight, but as part of a healthy lifestyle change). Throw away your corn oil and use olive oil instead.
Spice Up Your Life
Not only do herbs and spices make food interesting to eat, but many are known to act as anti-inflammatory pain fighters. Whole, fresh ginger root tops the list. Ginger adds a warm citrus flavor to savory and sweet foods, so get into the habit of grating fresh ginger over vegetables and homemade baked goods.
Turmeric is good for your digestion, joints and brain. Sprinkle over steamed vegetables or stir into yogurt. Green herbs such as mint, wintergreen, thyme and oregano help relax muscles and boost a good mood. Use fresh herbs liberally in cooking and teas. Capsaicin is found in hot peppers of all types as well as over-the-counter pain creams. Remove the seeds and membrane for a little less “kick” while still getting the pain-relieving benefits.
Get More Vitamin C
The body is easily depleted of Vitamin C. Junk food, air pollution, chronic illnesses and even too little sleep rob the body of Vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant is important for good overall health and has been shown to reduce pain sensations for some people.
Oranges, cherries, grapes, colorful sweet peppers and strawberries are good sources of Vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as fiber and natural sugars that may help reduce cravings for sweetened junk food. Consuming these delicious edibles may help prevent arthritis, and they are certainly healthy for your immune system. Talk to your doctor before taking super-high doses of Vitamin C supplements. There may be drawbacks to consuming many grams of the vitamin.
So, throw away your processed foods and bring omega-3 fats, herbs and spices and good sources of Vitamin C to the table instead. If you want more information about natural pain management and you live in Phoenix, AZ, search the Core Institute for a provider near you.