Eat Your Way Out of Pain
To a large extent, the amount of suffering you do with pain is a function of what you eat. Just as you can take a pill to suppress inflammation, you can make a different kind of chemical change by wisely choosing what you eat.
We experience pain because of our nervous systems, of course, but there is a chemical component to pain. The body produces chemicals that create inflammation in response to injury. Inflammation irritates the nerves and we experience pain. This is why people take anti-inflammatory drugs to get rid of pain.
We take a chemical substance (anti-inflammatory drug) to control inflammation, but few people realize that inflammation is also controlled by our diets. The tendency to have a strong inflammatory response (more pain) or a lower inflammatory response (less pain) is controlled by what you eat.
Let’s take a look at some foods and the effect they have on pain and inflammation:
• Water: Adequate water intake does two good things to help relieve pain; it enables you to eliminate waste easier. Your body can more efficiently dilute and eliminate the chemicals that cause inflammation. Drink water, not coffee, tea or colas. Adequate hydration is necessary to keep the ligaments and discs healthy. If you do not drink enough water, you are more prone to injury—especially back injury.
• Oil: Carefully choose the fats and oils that you consume. Essential fatty acids produce substances called prostaglandins. Some of these prostaglandins cause inflammation, others suppress it. Strictly avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils—avoid trans fats. Also animal fats are pro-inflammatory. You can eat meat, but eat lean cuts, skinless chicken and turkey. Fish is excellent because it contains omega-3 fatty acid, which is very anti-inflammatory. You may even consider taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Also flax seed contains omega-3 fatty acids. Buy some flax seeds and sprinkle them on salads and other dishes.
• Avoid refined sugar and white flour: Insulin is very pro-inflammatory and eating sugar and refined starch causes you to produce insulin. Soda pop, cookies, candy and other goodies will help to keep you in pain.
• Eat brightly colored produce: The bright colors in fruits and vegetables are from bioflavonoids—these are wonderful antioxidants. They protect the cells of the plant from sun and from photosynthesis (which involves oxidation). When we eat them they protect our cells. There is a lot of research that demonstrates that antioxidants help to reduce pain and inflammation.
• Eat raw food: If that produce you are eating is raw, so much the better. Raw food contains enzymes and enzymes help your body to chemically clean up inflammation.
One other thing that you should realize is that pain medications do not correct anything. Actually, in the long term, they make matters worse. Pain medications help you to bear the pain, but they actually destroy cartilage, some of them slow down bone healing, and they cause oxidation. Techniques such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathy can be very helpful, without the side-effects of drugs. Many herbs can also help to mitigate pain. Natural health care is far superior when it comes to long-term relief.