Can your diet affect your chronic pain? The simple answer is yes: A balanced diet that produces a health weight can have a great impact on your pain.
Throughout history there have been many nutrients and foods that have been used to treat many ailments including pain. Some have been tested scientifically and other’s secret to “heal” have been passed down from generation to generation.
We do not endorse any food or nutrient as being a treatment or cure to your pain, however we review below the nutrients and food that have been considered by some to be beneficial for individuals in chronic pain. Please consult with a dietician for more information.
Often pain is due secondary to inflammation that your body experiences. Certain foods can increase this inflammation while others help to reduce it. Certain cells in your body such as fat cells are believed to facilitate production of more inflammatory factors. Thus weight loss not only decreases mechanical stress on the body it may also help to decrease the overall inflammation.
The proper diet combined with an aerobic exercise program allows appropriate nutrients to reach painful areas aiding the healing and recovery process. Aerobic exercises are also known to improve blood flow.
A healthy and back friendly diet not only may help decrease inflammation, it can also improve blood flow by decreasing the formation of hardened arteries (atherosclerosis). There have been many scientific studies showing that patients with atherosclerosis have a high incidence of low back pain. Just as atherosclerosis can decrease blood flow to the heart and brain, it can also decrease blood flow to the back leading to increased back pain and poor healing. A back friendly diet can decrease the level of bad cholesterol in your body thus decreasing the amount of atherosclerotic plaque formation.
Some Helpful Tips:
1) Eat Power Foods: Power foods are foods that provide your body with energy slowly rather than quickly. Power foods usually are those that are high in complex carbohydrates and proteins and low in simple sugars.
2) Avoid Starchy Foods, Unnecessary Carbohydrates, & Foods with High Glycemic Index
3) Drink Plenty of Liquids: Water, Milk or Juices
4) Avoid Soda: Soda contains both caffeine and phosphoric acid both of with reduce calcium and can weaken bones and increase back pain.
5) Take Your Vitamins & Minerals Daily: Important Supplements in Pain Management Include: Calcium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Vitamin B Complex, Antioxidant, Magnesium and Omega 3 Fatty Acids,
6) Choice Healthier Snacks: Fresh Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables.
7) Use Oils Sparingly: Use extra virgin olive oil, rather than other oils or dressings on salads, as it has been known to have anti-inflammatory properties,
8) Eat Clean & Lean Meats: Poultry, Fish and Eggs.
9) Eat Less & More Often: Try to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 large meals as we traditionally do. This maintains a more constant metabolic rate. Also try not to over eat and only eat balanced meal. Also remember to eat a healthy breakfast it can give your body a good start in the morning.
10) Void Excessive Caffeine: Caffeine can increase muscle tension, as well as decrease calcium.
11) Avoid Excessive Sodium: Watch your sodium intake and keep your blood pressure under control.
12) Other Supplements and Creams Believed To Be Beneficial: Methylsulfonylmethane, Glucosamine, ChondroitinSulfate, Capsaicin Topical Cream
|GOOD NUTRIENTS||AVOID THESE FOODS|
|Power Foods (high in complex carbohydrates and proteins)||Starchy foods|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||Other Cooking Oils|
|Vitamin D & C||High Sodium Intake|
|Antioxidants||High Glyemic Index Foods|
|Omega 3 Fatty Acids||Sweets|
|Clean & Lean Meats (Poultry/Fish)||Red Meat|
|Small Meals (5-6) Day||Large Meals|
There are many herbs that have been throughout the years that have been shown to be beneficial in treating pain. However these herbs are not often tested by the FDA so their safety profile may not always be know. Please use supplements and herbs with caution and consult with your doctor and nutritionist before starting these medications. Safety in pregnant women or nursing mothers is often unknown. Willows bark, Devils claw and Ginger Extracts are three of the more popular anti-inflammatory supplements in some areas.
- Willow bark
- Devil’s Claw
- Ginger Extract
- Curcumin (Turmeric)
- Pau d’arco
- St John’s wort
Stretching & Core Strengthening
Understanding Your Medications
Living With Chronic Pain
Your Pain Specialist and You