Is Chronic Pain linked to What You Eat?
Chronic pain can be a real hassle to deal with, especially as you age because it just gets worse. It’s hard to manage and there can be many different causes to it, even your diet! Although, your diet can also help you relieve some chronic pain and inflammation.
What Does Inflammation Have to do With This?
Most chronic pain is caused by inflammation. Inflammation is caused when you get hurt or infected and your body sends signals to the immune system to send white blood cells to the injury to either repair or fight the infection. Usually when the injury heals or the infection goes away, the inflammation goes with it. Sometimes though, the inflammation stays long after the injury or infection which can cause damage to healthy cells and organs by causing constant pain in muscles, joints, and tissues.
But How Can my Diet Cause Less Pain?
Your immune system responds to your diet, so if you have an unhealthy diet your immune system will not work properly. In fact with unhealthy diets your immune system responds as if it were fighting a bacterial infection, which can cause long term inflammation and pain. Your immune system also doesn’t work at its best without the proper nutrients, so it’s more likely you could get sick with a poor diet.
This goes both ways though, so having a healthy diet means your immune system will be thriving. Your immune system will be stronger so you get sick less, and its unlikely your immune system will think there is a bacterial infection when there isn’t, reducing inflammation and pain.
So What Can I Eat to Reduce Chronic Pain?
Generally you’ll want to stick near to the Mediterranean diet which has whole fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These are all high in micronutrients which your body needs to function properly and is required by your immune system to function on a higher level. It would also be good to throw in some olive oil, flaxseed oil, or fatty fish to get more omega-3 fatty acids which can also improve your immune system.
There are also foods you should avoid generally because they are very bad for your health, but also because they can drastically affect your immune system. Most processed food such as chips, soda, processed meats, white bread, white pasta, or anything with a high amount of refined carbohydrates are some of the worst. Not only do they not offer much in the way of micronutrients for your body, they can also have harmful chemicals in them.
Although going straight into a diet and keeping to it is great, for some people it would be better to gently introduce the diet into their life. Try cutting out some unhealthy foods and replacing them one by one with more healthy options until you’re eating mostly healthy foods.