Your body is incredibly self-sufficient and comes with its own defense, healing, and regenerative systems that help keep you healthy and minimize pain. For these systems to function optimally, however, they require the right fuel — your diet.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain, there’s much that the experienced team at Advanced Spine Care and Pain Management can do to keep you comfortable. That said, there’s equally as much you can do on your own to improve your situation, starting with your diet.
Here’s a look at how what you eat can directly influence your body’s ability to combat pain, not to mention the role food can play in creating or exacerbating pain.
Diet and inflammation
Your immune system is designed to protect your body, and when it’s in fight mode, it creates inflammation, which allows your body time and space to heal. Unfortunately, many people struggle with chronic, system-wide inflammation, which leads to ongoing problems with pain.
One of the primary culprits behind system-wide inflammation is a poor diet — one that’s calorie rich and nutrient poor. In fact, researchers have found that your immune system reacts to a bad diet much as it would a bacterial infection.
Further, researchers have found that not getting enough of the following minerals and vitamins in your diet can affect the function of your immune system:
- Vitamins A, B6, C, E, and folate (B9)
Conversely, when you’re taking in the right nutrients, you encourage a healthier immune system that reacts appropriately, which includes lessening the inflammation response when the danger has passed.
Diet and weight
Another way in which your diet can influence pain is through your weight. If you’re carrying excess pounds, you may exacerbate certain problems, such as arthritis, which can lead to more discomfort.
When you lose weight, you remove some of the pressure on your musculoskeletal system, which can help relieve your pain, whether it stems from an injured knee or degenerative disc disease in your back.
Eating for pain management
The good news is that there are ways you can tackle the two problems above with the right diet. First and foremost, it’s important to steer clear of processed foods that are long on sodium, unhealthy fats, chemical additives, and sugar, but short on nutrients.
Instead, stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes:
- Whole fruits (especially berries)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- Whole grains (whole wheat pasta, oats, brown rice)
- Vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers)
- Dark, leafy greens (think spinach and kale)
- Fatty fishes (salmon, tuna, and mackerel)
- Beans and legumes
- Avocados and olives
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Spices (turmeric, ginger, garlic)
- Tea (especially green tea)
- Very dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
A diet rich in these foods provides your body with the nutrients and antioxidants it needs to fight inflammation, which can greatly relieve your pain.
If you have more questions about how you can improve your diet to better manage your pain, please contact one of our two offices in Staten Island or Hartsdale, New York, to set up an appointment.