Eat Right to Help Control Pain
Your diet has a major impact on your health, so it's no surprise that a great deal of research has been done into how dietary interventions can influence pain management strategies. While it is not accurate to say that certain foods can kill pain or even reduce its severity, it is widely accepted that foods rich in certain nutrients can be used to give the body everything it needs for optimal function. Nutrition is sometimes overlooked during pain treatment, but patients should always be mindful of how they eat whenever they are healing from an injury or illness.
Moreover, nutrition has been proven to help control certain medical conditions with pain symptoms. For example, osteoporosis and gout can both be partially treated by changes in diet. However, there are general eating guidelines you can follow to help manage acute and chronic pain alike.
Facts on Nutrition: Foods with Pain-Fighting Properties
Here are seven common foods that contain chemicals and nutrients known to aid the body's natural pain-fighting capabilities:
- Ginger. This root has long been known for its analgesic properties, and scientists have confirmed that it can reduce inflammation in bodily tissues. Inflammation is a major cause of pain, and it occurs when injured tissues expand beyond their normal size during the healing process. Ginger helps soothe this response, thereby relieving pain, and it has also been shown to fight nausea and motion sickness.
- Salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids have proven effective in helping to soothe the pain caused by arthritis, and have also shown promise in the management of back and neck pain. Because salmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, it should be a part of your diet if you suffer from back pain, neck pain, or arthritis.
- Cherries. Cherries, especially the sour variety known as "tart cherries," can help reduce gout attacks, and have also been shown to help relieve muscle cramps and strains in endurance athletes.
- Coffee. Caffeine's pain-fighting properties are well known. In fact, caffeine is an ingredient in many types of prescription pain medication for two reasons. First, caffeine itself has mild pain relieving properties. Second, it aids in the absorption of analgesics, essentially making painkillers more effective than they would have been on their own.
- Oranges. High in vitamin C, oranges and citrus fruits have been shown to help relieve and control the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin C also has general anti-inflammatory properties; so if you're suffering from pain caused by inflammation, adding more vitamin C-rich foods to your diet will support treatment efforts.
- Red grapes. Rich in a compound known as resveratrol, red grapes help maintain healthy tissues and prevent degeneration. This, in turn, reduces your risk for many types of pain, and helps prevent conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis from worsening.
- Soy. Particularly effective for fighting knee pain caused by arthritis, soy protein's efficacy has been clinically proven. In a recent Oklahoma State University study, patients with knee pain caused by osteoarthritis were given 40 grams of soy protein per day. By the end of the study, those patients had reduced their consumption of pain medication by half.
In addition to boosting your overall health, eating well also assists in weight control. Overweightness and obesity are major contributors to certain forms of pain, largely because of the added strain on key muscles and joints. Losing weight can help relieve this type of pain while boosting and protecting your general health. Aim to take in no more than 2,000 calories per day while limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 25 grams and total fat intake to 60 grams. Combine healthy eating with a regular program of physical activity and better health will be yours to enjoy.