It is estimated that, with chronic pain affecting more than 116 million American adults, nearly one third of the US population is currently struggling with pain in their daily lives. These staggering figures should be an urgent call for action, but in many cases, medical intervention is not always an option – and sometimes, even when it is, that alone is not enough to abate what can seen as the crippling effects of pain.
Sometimes a chronic pain sufferer will need to address the issue across various platforms in their lives. One of the easier options to implement in a patient’s everyday life is to begin looking at ways of altering their diet. While you’ll find numerous studies noting that a diet alone will not cure your pain, a healthy eating plan will most certainly have many benefits.
Certain foods are able to reduce inflammation, build better bone density and stronger muscles, block some of the pain signals in our body, release the type of chemicals from the brain that make us feel good and boost energy levels. Conversely, certain types of foods and styles of eating will actually serve to exacerbate your pain problems, causing inflation and extreme sensitivity in your pain receptors.
What should you be eating?
Cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The anthocyanins, which also give cherries their red colour, are potent antioxidants which function make like aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. You may need to ingest quite a number, but a bowl full of cherries will have amazing effects on your joints and other stiff areas.
In general, many types of berries will also have high levels of antioxidants which have great health benefits. An antioxidant is a particular type of molecule which prevents other molecules from oxidising. The process of oxidisation can produce free radicals, which in turn, can possibly result in chain reactions that cause damage or death to your cells.
Antioxidants prevent this process, and are thus crucial to maintaining a healthy body. Even red grapes contain resveratol, an antioxidant which makes them very effective at assisting with back pain. Often toted as a wonder drug, ginger has been used as a home remedy for centuries. For a long time, ginger has been the go-to root for anyone suffering extreme nausea, making it a favorite with pregnant women.
Now, ginger is being recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties, which are noted to be particularly good in helping those with arthritis stiffness and muscle pain. Including it in your diet is relatively easy, as it can be ground up and served in a wide variety of foods, and works very well as an herbal tea.
Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are noted for having several benefits, including improved cognitive functioning, improved blood flow circulation and decreasing the pressure felt in particular nerves. These fish oils are known to help restore degeneration within the spinal column, aiding with pains of the back and the neck that may have been caused by deterioration of the disks between vertebrae.
Omega-3 is also known to boost cardiovascular function. If you are suffering from pain in your back or neck, either get your Omegas by means of a supplement or from salmon, herring and sardines.
A sigh of relief can be heard from the caffeine addicts, coffee is good for pain! If you suffer from headaches or migraines, coffee is said to provide substantial pain relief. In fact, a single cup should have more antioxidants than a handful of berries. Do, however, try and restrict the number of cups you drink per – and it is also suggested that you drink your coffee black. You can also try a cup of coffee to ease your pain after a strenuous workout.
Foods aren’t the only thing which have pain fighting abilities, however, and it’s becoming more and more commonplace for people to begin experimenting with the herbs and spices which may alleviate some of the causes and symptoms of pain. Turmeric, for instance, is high on the list for the restorative effect it can have on rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Not only have recent studies suggested that turmeric is actually more effective in treating pain and inflammation than your run-of-the-mill steroid medication. Containing the protein NF-kB, turmeric can have a halting effect on the damage happening within your joints. Likewise, sage also possesses anti-inflammatory properties which, although more commonly used to treat things like a sore throat, can ease a wide variety of pains and ailments, functioning somewhat like a topical anaesthetic. Again, it works really well in the form of a tea.
Peppers are also a very handy source for a chef seeking to help someone out with their pain. Fiery peppers contain more capsaicin than mild peppers. This active ingredient stimulates the body’s ability to produce endorphins, which act as natural opiates for the body, and reduce stress, anxiety and pain from tension. Furthermore, capsaicin can also do a very good job of dampening your body’s pain receptors, thereby reducing the level of your pain.
Then, there is also the soy alternative. While some may think of it only as tofu or a meat substitute, the soy bean yields many health benefits – particularly if you’re battling osteoporosis. One such benefit is the fact that the plant estrogens in soy can counteract the processes which may lead to stiff joints, reducing pain and ultimately increasing mobility. There is even potential for the soy protein to begin regenerating the damaged cartilage within your joints.
No matter which way you choose to go on your path for pain fighting foods, simply adapt a few of the suggestions from above into your diet, and chances are you’ll be able to feel some difference in your pain level within a few weeks. Don’t rush yourself, however, as not everything will affect every person in the same way.
Some of these things will work for your friends, and some of them will work for you. Take careful note of what helps and what does not, and slowly but surely you’ll be able to institute a complete healthy eating plan aimed entirely at your own pain alleviating needs.