You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” While eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals can help keep your body in optimum shape, it can also help cure what ails you.
While many people suffering from chronic pain turn to medical interventions, including painkillers, to help ease their suffering, adding certain foods to your diet can also make a measurable difference in the severity and duration of pain. No single food is a “magic bullet” that will instantly cure chronic pain, but several foods, when eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet, can help reduce inflammation and ease aches, pains and stiffness.
In today’s society “fat” might as well be a curse word. However, there are such things as “good” fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados and fish like salmon and mackerel, that are actually beneficial to our overall health and well-being — and have actually been proven to help reduce inflammation and accompanying pain. For example, salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that have been proven to be effective in reducing the pain associated with arthritis. Make a point of adding these healthy fats to your diet by consuming fish two to three times per week, cooking with olive oil and choosing healthy avocados for snacks. A fish oil supplement can also be beneficial, both for reducing pain and keeping your heart healthy. Flax seeds are another excellent source of omega-3; try adding the seeds to your morning cereal or cooking with flax seed oil.
Certain fruits are packed with enzymes and antioxidants that are useful in fighting inflammation.Berries and pineapples, for example, are often cited as pain fighters, and athletes often drink tart cherry juice before major competitions to help ease muscle pain. When adding fruits to your diet to help ease pain, choose fresh fruit over canned when possible, and try to find organic varieties to avoid any potentially harmful chemicals that could dilute the fruits’ healthful properties.
Fenugreek, a leafy plant often found in Indian cuisine, is another good choice for fighting back pain. You can eat the leaves, roots or sprouts of this plant, which not only has anti-inflammatory properties but also contains phytosteroids, which help rebuild tissue. Garlic also contains natural pain relieving enzymes.
For generations, natural healers have touted the properties of many plants, and evidence proves that a number of common herbs can help reduce inflammation and pain in your back and joints. Rosemary, for example, is known for its ability to ease muscle tension and pain; it also contains salicin, the active ingredient in aspirin, which makes it a natural pain reliever. Turmericis reputed to be a natural analgesic as well.
Drink Your Way to Health
Dehydration is a common cause of pain, and failing to drink plenty of water each day can actually make the pain worse. Experts recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For a 140-pound woman, that means at least 70 ounces of water per day. Beyond water, though, drinking green tea can actually help fight inflammation, thanks to the antioxidants in the tea leaves. Ginger tea is another good choice, as ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties that can help you lose the back pain.
Foods to Avoid
While many foods can help reduce back pain, some foods actually exacerbate the problem. White refined sugar and processed foods may not necessarily cause pain, but they usually contribute to excess weight, which is a common cause of back and joint pain. Some studies have linked certain foods, including eggs, wheat, chocolate and red meat to inflammation, but the effects are not universal. In fact, some doctors recommend trying an elimination approach to determining the cause of inflammation. By eliminating potential trigger foods one at a time and gauging results, you can determine whether it’s your morning omelet that’s increasing your pain or something else entirely.
The effects of food on your pain will vary according to the causes of the pain and your body’s own natural reactions to the nutrients within the food. However, the importance of a healthy diet cannot be understated, and choosing foods that are known to reduce discomfort can only help you feel better.
About the Author: Jesse Cannone is a leading expert in back pain relief and one of the developers of Rub on Relief, an effective, all-natural pain-reliever. A certified fitness trainer, Jesse has worked with clients all over the world to help them reach their fitness goals, and he has contributed his expertise to dozens of magazines and television programs.