When about 30% of a nation’s population suffers from a certain health problem, it becomes a national priority. Americans, for example, may tell you that diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are each affecting about 10% of the population, but rarely do they know that chronic pain targets one in three Americans – with this ratio rising every year – and today there are over a hundred million people suffering from it. Moreover, this condition cannot be cured easily nor diagnosed precisely with all patients, and certain medications that are prescribed to relieve pain may turn out to be addictive and counterproductive. This is why many sufferers are reaching for alternative ways to relieve their pain, and the first place they reach for is their kitchen.
We are what we eat, goes the saying. While healthy individuals rarely spend hours contemplating their next meal, those suffering from any form of chronic pain often plan their meals days ahead, in order to stay on top of their disease. If you are trying to find a way to battle your daily pain, here are some ideas on where to start.
What Should You Include in Your Diet?
The first things you should consider are your symptoms and painful zones, as not all foods affect all kinds of pain. For example, patients suffering from migraines and headaches find drinking coffee, ginger or mint tea helpful because it relaxes them and relieves tension.
Secondly, if you have stomach pains, inflammation of the colon or irritable bowel syndrome, try adding curry and mint as lunch spices, drinking a cup of yogurt in the morning or chewing on peppermint, as these spices will calm your digestive system.
Arthritis, a joint disorder that manifests itself in over a hundred types and equally affects children and adults (300,000 children, while 66% of all adult patients are no older than 65), can be eased with simple things like hot peppers and cherries you can eat as desert. Moreover, a 2007 study has shown that ginger root extract affects arthritic cells more strongly than any other cells.
Finally, you can treat pain in your back and neck with different kinds of fish high in omega-3, as they speed up blood flow, relieving pain in spinal disks. The same goes for fish oil – the US Department of Agriculture, for example, suggests taking about a hundred grams of fish oil twice a week in order to reduce all sorts of arthritic pain.
What Should You Remove from Your Diet?
It is well known that junk food mainly causes weight issues, and overweight people often mention eating all sorts of unhealthy meals as the main reason for their condition. However, the same thing that makes junk food bad for your weight – lack of nutritive ingredients – also causes chronic pain.
Without healthy food, your body has no fuel to function normally and it is only natural that you feel exhausted, weary and constantly tired. Try to incorporate some of the previously mentioned items into your diet and replace fatty meats, takeouts, pizza, sweets and soda drinks with chicken meat, vegetables, fruit and water.
Moreover, try avoiding food additives that activate neurons, making you even tenser and increasing you pain sensitivity. Some of the most dangerous items are artificial sweeteners, sugar, salt and preservatives, and these should definitely be thrown out of your kitchen and replaced with turmeric, chili and traditional Chinese herbs that actually have a positive effect on your back pain.
Finally, stay away from the excessive intake of coffee because caffeine creates tension in your muscles, pain in your back and prevents you from sleeping peacefully and achieving quality rest.
Case Study: Gluten-Free Diet
Being one of the key ingredients in most favorite foods such as cookies, bread and bagels, gluten is today equally infamous due to its harmful effects on heath (joint pain, weight gain, inflammation, cancer, headaches, etc.) and at the same time popular as one of the most widespread proteins all over the world. While it may be true that gluten attacks your small intestine and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract causing celiac disease, not all accusations can be proven true and not all people who think they are allergic to gluten really are, but it often turns out they are experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, an allergy to wheat and slight gluten sensitivity. For those who want to limit the intake of this protein, a gluten-free diet is the key.
While it will not – unlike according to the popular opinion – make you lose weight and be healthier by default, it can assist in achieving a higher quality of life and make you feel much better on a daily basis. When it comes to relieving pain, gluten-free diet causes the removal of one of the protein composite’s two ingredients, gliadin – this hard-to-digest protein causes bloating, diarrhea, headaches and, ultimately, muscle pain and an overall feeling of drowsiness in some patients. Therefore, you should try to replace gluten with other foods – from muesli for breakfast, gluten-free pasta for lunch to sea bass, and blueberry and almond butter smoothie for dinner – because this has been proven effective, and a number of athletes, including ATP* number one, Novak Djokovic, have reported drastic positive changes in their bodies after they stopped consuming gluten.
*Association of Tennis Professionals
While you sometimes cannot cure the true causes of your pain, you can try to minimize it and make it a thing of the past. All problematic areas, whether they reside in your head, back, joints, extremities or torso, can be treated with nutritional food choices and a couple of simple tweaks to your daily menu will make a huge difference.
About Our Author
Norah Martin is a newbie traveler with an ever-growing wishlist. She can be found on most days with pen and paper in hand (she is hopelessly outdated at times), jotting down her thoughts. She drinks excessive amounts of tea and raspberry juice, collects running shoes and would feel naked without nail polish. You can read more of her writings at High Style Life.