You are what you eat. And if you’re experiencing chronic pain from arthritis, injury, inflammation or another condition, you may be actually worsening your pain because of your dietary choices. Certain foods can aggravate these health problems, while others can do the exact opposite. While foods can’t cure your pain entirely, they can provide relief when combined with regular medical care and a healthy lifestyle.
What NOT to Eat
Saturated fats, trans fats and simple, refined carbohydrates are all known to worsen the symptoms of arthritis. Foods heavy in one or more of these ingredients actively encourage inflammation and pain in joints and muscles. Consuming some of these ingredients is going to be unavoidable, but watching out and avoiding foods like chicken fried steaks and chocolate sundaes can help you live a happier, healthier lifestyle – without aggravating the pain. When cooking or purchasing meals, check for recipes and products that don’t require fatty meats, heavy dairy products, coconut or palm oil, hydrogenated oils, sugar, white flour or white rice. As delicious as these foods can be, try to indulge sparingly. These foods aren’t exactly worth the resulting pain!
What to Eat Instead
A healthier, comparatively more pain-free diet replaces fattier cuts with leaner ones. Better yet, with leaner meats. Ditch the beef and pork and start eating more buffalo (no, really!), chicken, turkey or fish instead. If you’re a more adventurous type, try wild game as well, if you can find room in the grocery budget for it. Venison, elk, antelope and other meats are all usually much leaner than the ones coming from a farm.
As for carbohydrates, try trading out the simple for the complex. Brown rice instead of white. Whole grain breads instead of white and enriched. Turbinado sugar or honey instead of refined or powdered. Nutrition labels are the best way to gauge how much pain a dish may cause. Search for more minimally-processed ingredients and the lowest levels of trans and saturated fats possible.
What to Eat to Stop Pain
In addition to swapping out a bacon cheeseburger for a broiled chicken breast, you might want to add certain foods to your diet that helps combat pain. The replacements are great, but they do not actively fight inflammation. A diet to help keep your inflammation at bay will also incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil, vitamin D, antioxidants and even certain spices. Basically, you’re going to have to eat your veggies.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin C and more – all of which a body needs to ward off pain. Citrus fruits and bell peppers are especially potent, but berries, leafy greens, melons, apricots, squashes and others can still offer plenty to a diet that fights inflammation. For seafood fans, salmon is rich in the vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids known to reduce inflammation. Tuna, crabs, oysters and shrimp provide selenium, a valuable antioxidant. And when snack time rolls around, try walnuts for Omega-3s and Brazil nuts for selenium. Even some spices can help you better manage pain! Some studies note a possible correlation between turmeric, rosemary and ginger to reduced inflammation.
Rather than pan-frying or sautéing in clarified butter or other fats, use extra-virgin olive oil instead. Other grades are acceptable, but for the highest density of antioxidants, you’re going to need the purest pressings available. Like all oils, of course, it’s best to go light. Although largely healthy, olive oil still contains some extra calories you’ll need to burn off with regular exercise.
Help Beyond Diet
Eliminating certain foods and including others might make the pain subside somewhat, but it won’t cure it altogether. When your inflammation grows unmanageable, schedule an appointment with BACAS. We can provide the help you need to enjoy your life to the fullest.