Is your diet contributing to your inflammation and pain?
Inflammation is a natural component of the healing process and is necessary for your tissue repair. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, signifies a lack of tissue healing and can cause ongoing tissue damage. Additionally, chronic inflammation has been linked to many major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s.
Pain is never just a biomechanical issue – it is a combination of biomechanical, biochemical and psychological factors. Bio-mechanics of pain and bio-chemistry of pain are two very different, and equally important, aspects of the pain cycle to address when dealing with healing and repair.
This article is designed for you to learn about how you can optimise your nutrition to decrease pain and enhance the healing processes of your body.
The production of inflammatory mediators (chemicals release by the body), are biochemical changes that can aggravate and increase pain signals. Research has demonstrated that there are multiple dietary factors that will in fact intensify the expression of inflammation, which the body can perceive this as more pain.
Of particular interest is dehydration, the imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6, deficiencies in magnesium and potassium, and a low phytonutrient intake (i.e. lack of fresh vegetables and fruits). These states can lead to diet-induced pro-inflammatory state that contributes to chronic inflammation.
The empowering news is diet that something we can control ourselves.
One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the local farmers market and grocery store.
Fruit and vegetables contain large amounts of phytochemicals that have significant anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Humans are genetically adapted to a primarily plant-based diet (vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds), wild-caught fish and animals that ate vegetation (organic meats). As Hippocrates so famously stated “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, and use the list below as a guide to help your body heal.
Anti-inflammatory foods (Increase)
+ Spices: Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon
+ Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy and collards
+ Nuts & seeds: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed
+ Oily fish (wild-caught): salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines
+ Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples, oranges
+ Cold pressed olive oil
+ Trans fats
+ Soft drinks
+ Refined carbohydrates
+ Dairy and casein
+ Artificial ingredients: aspartame and MSG
3 low-cost life hacks
- Restricted calorie or intermittent fasting states shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
- Water is essential to the human body as it serves as a vehicle for chemical reactions in the body as well as a means to flush out toxins. Drinking 0.5-1L of water upon rising is a great life hack to start the day with sufficient hydration. Add a squeeze of lemon for additional alkalising and liver boosting effect.
- Meditate and sleep more. Meditation and 8 hours of sleep have been scientifically shown to reduce stress and inflammation in the body while boosting immune function and the bodies ability to fight disease.
And lastly smile more and hug people!
Yes, the effects of smiling and hugging have been scientifically researched and will help you fight inflammation. Not only does a smile feel good, smiling also stimulates the immune system, decreases stress, lowers blood pressure and increases positive psychology. Hugging and human touch can help you live longer, fight depression, decrease stress, protect against illness and improve your sleep. We give away free smiles and hugs at Kula Health.
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Liebersen, C., Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner’s Manual. Lippincott & Williams , 1996. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation