What we consume plays a critical role in how our bodies function, so it shouldn’t be surprising that diet is extremely important, thus the focus of a nutritional approach to pain management. The proper foods can make an enormous difference in how fast and well your body heals, as well as how you respond to ongoing pain. Everything that enters your body affects basic chemistry and influences key physiological operations; if you haven’t made optimal nutrition a priority in your pain management repertoire, then now is a good time to start.
If you are just now investigating what nutrients are beneficial for mitigating pain, here are some essential things to keep in mind:
- Maintain high levels of vitamin D—vitamin D plays a strong role in limiting inflammation which is often a major component of many chronic pain conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia and back pain. A deficiency of vitamin D has been linked to many chronic pain conditions, so keeping your vitamin D levels optimal should be a top priority.
- Limit processed foods—your doctor has probably already told you to avoid processed foods to improve your general health, but if you suffer from chronic pain, you have an added incentive to do so. Most Americans consume processed foods which possess few micronutrients that are essential for optimal body function.
- Include turmeric—this spice found in curry dishes has proven medicinal benefits including anti-inflammation. In scientific studies involving mice, turmeric diminished inflammation by blocking production of inflammation proteins.
- Supplement your magnesium—magnesium plays a key role in muscle relaxation, so maintaining high levels in your system can minimize muscle tension, an aggravating factor in many chronic pain conditions.
- Eat Omega-3 fatty acids—consume fish, seeds and nuts that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid that play important roles in lowering inflammation and elevating mood.
- Glucosamine—this dietary supplement is essential for the production of cartilage, the rubber-like, connective tissue found in joints. For people with arthritis or other kinds of joint pain, glucosamine may be a good option.
- Melatonin—foods like rice, corn and bananas are rich in melatonin, a compound that improves sleep which is critical for chronic pain sufferers.
- Antioxidants—a class of natural and man-made chemicals that include vitamins C and E may help ease some of the symptoms of chronic pain conditions. Recent research links antioxidant use with diminished pain associated with chronic pancreatitis, but these beneficial compounds may play a much larger role in pain management.
Although these are important points to consider when modifying your diet for pain management, ultimately, you will experience the greatest benefit when you adopt a healthy nutrition program that emphasizes a natural, nutritious diet with minimal fat, sugar and artificial ingredients. Before you initiate a new diet, consult with your doctor or nutritionist to learn what foods will benefit you the most and what to avoid. You should also ask what kinds of dietary supplements should be included because some may have limited benefits for your condition and even produce unwanted side effects.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.