Pain affects more people than you might expect.
Chronic or severe pain affects nearly one third of Americans. Chronic pain is pain that is lasting longer than three months. With so many pain treatments out there, you would expect that these numbers would be in decline. However, the reality is that they are on the rise.
So, with all the pain medications, over the counter pills, injections and other treatments out there for pain, something must be missing. One of the biggest factors to address when it comes to pain is nutrition.
Often physicians will tell you to lose weight and eat better, but a discussion about specific types of food is rarely mentioned. There are variety of foods that actually increase inflammation in the body. It may surprise you how the intake of certain foods will cause more inflammation and pain. Eliminating these foods or at least moderating your intake may be the solution to treating your pain.
Before getting into the foods that cause inflammation, you should understand that inflammation is a good thing….in some cases. Inflammation is important for stimulating healing after an injury or helping you get better when you get sick.
The problem occurs when inflammation becomes chronic. This becomes harmful to the body and may cause you to be more susceptible to things like heart disease and diabetes. This is why avoiding inflammatory foods is so important.
Top 5 foods to avoid to help your chronic pain
It’s no secret that sugar is unhealthy. Coffee drinks, sodas, juices, sweets, pastries, cakes, snack bars all contain high levels of sugar. The two most common sugar additives in our food are sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup. When we eat excess amounts of sugar the body has trouble processing it. This causes an inflammatory response in the body.
Not only will sugar cause inflammation in the body, it also decreases immunity. Excess sugar will suppress the function of white blood cells that work to fight off bacteria that cause colds and other sicknesses.
Sticking to the sugars in fruits and vegetables to avoid additional sugar additives is your best bet. It’s a good idea to start looking at nutrition labels to see how much sugar is in the food and drinks that you are consuming.
Americans eat excessive amounts of vegetable oil. Our foods are full of these oils. Things like bread, crackers, mayonnaise, potato chips and fried foods. These foods that use vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids which are inflammatory. Not to mention, vegetable oils and foods that contain them are highly processed.
Consuming more omega-3 rich foods such as olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil is the healthier option. Most people should be trying to have a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. The average American ratio ranges from 12:1 to 25:1!
This may sound surprising, but dairy is a large source for inflammation-inducing saturated fats. Milk, soft cheeses, butter and yogurt are guilty of this inflammatory response.
Of course, yogurt has benefits of providing probiotics and consumption is recommended. However, be sure to read those yogurt labels. A lot of them are loaded with added sugars that cause even more inflammation.
In case you’re concerned that lack of dairy will deplete you of calcium, don’t worry. There’s plenty of calcium in other foods like broccoli, carrots, almonds and sweet potatoes.
Refined Carbohydrates and Flours
These include bread, crackers, breakfast cereal, pastas and flour tortillas. Refined carbs and flour are stripped of their fiber and nutrients. Fiber is slow to break down in the body and promotes fullness. When the fiber is stripped away, the food is digested much more quickly.
Refined carbs are high in glucose and break down more quickly. This causes an insulin spike in the body. A rise in insulin levels is an inflammatory response in the body. A diet rich in refined carbs also causes an increase in inflammatory markers that can lead to more chronic inflammation and disease.
Stick to more natural, fiber-dense foods to ensure your inflammation levels stay low. Oats and grains are a great example of fiber dense foods that should become staples in your diet.
Artificial Sweeteners and Additive
Anything not occurring naturally in nature is artificial. Artificial sweeteners are found in zero calorie drinks, diet sodas and other “no sugar added” products. These sweeteners disrupt levels of good bacteria in our guts. This disruption prevents the release of anti-inflammatory compounds. In turn, there is a greater likelihood for inflammation as a result of consumption of these sweeteners.
Artificial additives such as those in processed foods that have fruit or in breakfast cereal are equally as bad. Inflammation occurs because the body’s immune system sees these as foreign invaders. The result is a cascade of inflammation in the body.
Besides that, artificial flavors and colors lead to all kinds of other health issues. Issues such as altered hormone production and hyperactivity in children have been found.
It’s best to avoid these artificial additives and sweeteners. Look for more natural foods without artificial colors, flavors and dyes. Try sweetening food and drinks with honey instead of zero calorie additives.
These are just a list of five foods to avoid to prevent inflammation in the body. Making changes in your diet can drastically affect your pain levels even if you have had a chronic injury. Not only that, changes in diet can help with weight loss and improved energy. To stay as healthy as possible, keep inflammation down by avoiding foods that trigger it!