Chronic pain often stems from damage within our cells that causes inflammation in our body. While pain is most often be the result of injury or disease, sometimes our diets can be a culprit, as well, or contribute further to our issues as we consume foods that have inflammatory properties. If you experience chronic pain, it can be helpful to take a holistic look at your overall health and make changes to your diet as part of a multi-modal, multidisciplinary toolkit to help you manage and fight pain.
In general, a more natural and less processed diet helps reduce or minimize inflammation in the body, however there are specific foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties that you can consider adding to your regular rotation as well. They include:
- Fatty Fish – Fatty fish is a great source of protein and omega-3s, which are known for being anti-inflammatory. The best sources of omega-3s include salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies.
- Nuts – Many types of nuts, including walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, are packed with omega-3s, which are, again, known to reduce inflammation. Nuts also contain plenty of magnesium, l-arginine and Vitamin E, which may help keep inflammation under control. Plus, they’re a nutritious snack packed with protein that will help keep you full between meals. Just avoid nuts with added salt and go for the ones that are raw.
- Fruits – Fruits not only contain antioxidants that can fight off free radicals (those pesky things can cause cellular damage, one of the main causes of inflammation), but it’s also a source of natural sugar which can curb sugar cravings. Processed sugar is a big contributor to inflammation, so when you’re craving something sweet, grab some fresh fruit instead. We suggest apples, blueberries, cherries, pineapples, raspberries and strawberries.
- High Fiber Foods – Fiber is known to lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance found in blood that suggests the presence of inflammation. Foods high in fiber include whole grains, beans and certain vegetables and fruit.
- Olive and Avocado Oils – Good oils like olive, grapeseed and avocado are rich in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that helps to minimize inflammation. Consider cooking with these, or using them to create simple, cleaner salad dressings at home.
Just as there are foods that naturally reduce inflammation, there are foods that are known to trigger inflammation. We suggest avoiding and limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods with high amounts of sugar and salt, including refined carbohydrates like white bread, fried foods, wheat (especially if you have a gluten allergy), soda and other beverages, like juice crafted with added sugar, red meat and processed meat, and margarine and shortening.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, there are devices that can help as you approach pain management from every angle, like our Oska Pulse that is clinically proven to reduce inflammation and relieve pain using PEMF technology. However, as you diversify your tactics and explore what works for you, it can be useful to look for other changes that you can make, and your diet is a great place to start.