How to Reduce Pain with your diet

You may be thinking what has my diet got to do with my back pain? When we think of what causes pain or makes it worse we often think of physical things such as overdoing it at the gym, sitting for too long in a poor posture, a trip or fall. Whilst all of these are very relevant and obviously contribute, it is not the only aspect of what occurs causing us to feel the pain. In fact a lot of physical pain we feel is actually due to inflammation. This is necessary and part of the healing process but if it happens in excess it can lead to chronic inflammation that represents a lack of tissue healing and actually promotes ongoing tissue damage.

What has this got to do with your diet? Well different types of food are either pro- or anti- inflammatory. Anti inflammatory foods will help the body deal with inflammation and aid in tissue healing, pro inflammatory foods will escalate the inflammatory response making it more virulent and so increase pain at the same time!

Dietary imbalances are responsible for creating a diet induced, pro inflammatory state that leads to chronic inflammation (1). That sounds a bit fancy and complicated but what it essentially means is that the wrong type of diet will mean an injury will cause more havoc, last longer and lead to more problems.

Think of it like a forest fire started from a lit match. They typically tend to happen in hot, dry arid areas like the Australian outback, the same lit match would not have the same effect in a wet woodland such as Sherwood forest after its been raining!

Good foods to eat that are anti-inflammatory.

Fruit, vegetables, potatoes are all packed full of vitamins and minerals. Grass/pasture fed meat. Fresh fish, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds are all great sources of omega 3. My personal favourites dark chocolate and red wine (in moderation). Adding spices to food such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, oregano, majoram, cumin etc.. not only adds to the flavour of food but also to the health benefits!

Foods that are pro-inflammatory:

Most processed/ packaged food- these are full of chemicals/additives that are pro-inflammatory. Deep fried food, cakes and biscuits. Also grains/ grain products such as bread.

People tend to generally know what foods are good for them but not necessarily that diet can influence pain. I hope this may provide a bit of insight and provide even more of an incentive to eat healthily!

Eat well!

1)      Seamen DR. The diet induced pro-inflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002;25:168-179