With chronic pain on the rise people are looking for better solutions.
The opioid epidemic and dangerous side-effects of pills are causing people to look for other ways to manage pain. Exercise, physical therapy and occupational therapy are the best options for natural pain relief. However, other factors need to be considered like sleep hygiene, work habits and diet.
Diet and nutrition play a big role in pain relief and inflammation control. There are a whole host of foods that should be avoided because they cause inflammation.
But what about foods that reduce pain and help with healing the body?
Inflammation is a natural process that occurs in the body. It is an alert system that happens in response to injury, wound or sickness. The action of swelling after you twist you ankle is your body reacting to fix the problem. This is a good thing!
The bigger issue is chronic inflammation.
Lack of sleep, stress and poor diet can result in chronic inflammation. There are so many food additives and refined products in the American diet, which promote inflammation. Additionally, these foods also cause weight gain, which can result in risk for further injury or disease.
There various ways to combat chronic pain and inflammation with dietary changes. Here are a list of the top ten anti-inflammatory foods:
Berries are the best when it comes to reducing inflammation. There are tons of berry varieties. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, black currants, acai berries are just a few. Berries, especially blue berries, contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a flavonoid which effectively turn off inflammatory genes. They are also rich in vitamin C and resveratrol that help boost immunity. Start adding berries to your breakfast oats or smoothies and reduce other sugary sweeteners to help reduce your pain levels. Try to get at least 3-4 servings of fruit or berries per day.
Turmeric contains a powerful active compound called curcumin. It has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are numerous benefits to turmeric including reduction of pain associated with arthritis and joint pain. You can take turmeric as a supplement or add it to foods and teas to get the benefits.
The compounds in ginger provide numerous benefits. It acts as an antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and an antibacterial. Studies have shown that the compounds in ginger block enzymes in the body that promote inflammation. Fresh ginger is the most potent, but you can use dry as well. Steeping fresh ginger along with turmeric will make a great tea for daily supplementing.
4) Green Tea
Speaking of tea, green tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can consume. It is also a strong anti-inflammatory beverage because of its high polyphenol content. Green tea inhibits inflammation by reducing the pro-inflammatory cytokine production. It also helps to prevent damage to the fatty acids in cells. Make the transition from coffee drinks to green tea in the morning to reduce sugar intake and promote a decrease in pain. Adding ginger and turmeric to your green tea will create a super beverage for even stronger benefits.
5) Tart Cherries
This is one that may not be as well known. However, tart cherries are showing positive change in pain and inflammation in many studies. Studies on tart cherries have shown decrease in arthritis pain. In fact, one study showed decrease in pain and stiffness and increase in function. Consider adding tart cherries to your smoothie or simply drink tart cherry juice to help with pain relief. Mixing your tart cherry juice with water is a great way to help those who have difficulty drinking water during the day.
6) Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are great sources of protein. They also have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Why are these omega-3s so important? Unlike plant based fatty acids, fatty fish omega-3s are already in an active form. This means that they are more efficient in attacking inflammation in the body. These omega-3s have also been shown to reduce heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. Start adding fatty fish to your weekly diet for a tasty and healthy way to fight off pain.
Beets are a great source of numerous phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are linked to the reduction of many chronic diseases. Not only that, studies show that beets have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Beets have betalain pigments, which not only fight inflammation, but also increase metabolism, improve insulin resistance and improve mood. Incorporating beets into your diet will not only help reduce pain but also help with weight loss and energy production.
8) Chia Seeds
These are powerful seeds for their size. They are packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats and magnesium. They have the ability to absorb water at ten times their body weight. As a result, chia seeds help maintain blood sugar levels and suppress appetite. This will boost weight loss and help keep you hydrated throughout the day.
More importantly, these seeds will decrease spikes in blood sugar that can occur with other sugary or processed snacks. Post-eating blood sugar spikes have been linked to increases in inflammation. Therefore, incorporating chia seeds into your diet will keep sugar spikes from occurring and keep your pain and inflammation from escalating.
Not sure how to use chia seeds? They’re easy to incorporate into your diet! Just sprinkle them on your oatmeal or into yogurt or salad. You can also simply put them in water and drink them. Here’s a list of 45 ways to use chia seeds in your food.
Peppers are an anti-inflammatory super food. Red bell and chili peppers have the most benefit due to their high levels of vitamin C. Peppers are also rich in luteolin and beta carotene, which are flavonoids that reduce and control numerous inflammatory conditions.
10) Dark Chocolate
This is a great option for those looking for something slightly sweet. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can help regulate blood sugar and insulin resistance. Dark chocolate has been found to ferment in the stomach into anti-inflammatory compounds that shut down genes linked to inflammation. This is still a sweet snack that should be take in moderation. Also, remember to get dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao because this will have the highest levels of antioxidants.
There are so many foods that help decrease inflammation and reduce pain. The choices we make in our diets will drastically change how we feel. If you are experiencing chronic pain, start looking at your diet. Relief could be just that simple!
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