As a health coach, I’ve seen first hand how foods can help with pain relief, or inflammation. The truth is we can change our body chemistry every time we eat. If you’ve been living with chronic pain, especially chronic joint pain, I’d like you to consider that the foods you put into your body are just as important in managing your pain as what type of medications you may take.
If you’re experiencing chronic joint pain, my first recommendation is to follow an anti inflammatory way of eating. An anti inflammatory diet for chronic pain is considered a holistic approach to pain management along with exercise, stress management, and alternative therapies, like acupuncture and chiropractic.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
An anti-inflammatory “diet” is really a way of eating, rather than a specific diet or meal plan and has been made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD. This way of eating focuses on eating fresh, whole foods that are less likely to trigger or worsen inflammation, like fresh fruits and vegetables. This chronic pain diet also includes high quality animal protein and complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes.
This way of eating avoids fried food and processed foods with unhealthy oils like canola oil. I’ve seen clients benefit most when they also limit or avoid beans (legumes), dairy (including eggs and butter), and grains (rice, corn, wheat, etc).
The question as to why certain foods contribute to pain or inflammation is controversial and we don’t yet know the full story. Some nutrition and health experts claim that certain foods, like dairy, gluten, corn, and eggs cause inflammation in the body directly, yet there are some theories that claim that these foods feed pathogens, like virus, bacteria, and heavy metals in the body and those pathogens cause the inflammation. Regardless of the root cause of the inflammation, I’ve seen clients with chronic joint pain benefit from reducing these foods in their anti-inflammatory diet for chronic pain.
Here is a list of foods to eat to reduce inflammation:
- High quality animal protein (max 30% of your diet- Wild caught salmon, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised, organic turkey and chicken, etc.)
- Coconut, olive, and avocado oil
- All nuts and seeds (except peanuts which is a legume)
- All greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.)
- All vegetables (especially sweet potatoes as the main source of complex carbohydrates)
- All fruits (especially avocado for healthy fats and low-glycemic fruits like apples, berries, and grapefruit)
Here is a list of foods to avoid/limit to reduce inflammation:
- Dairy (including eggs, milk, cheese, butter, etc.)
- Grains (including corn, rice, quinoa, oats, gluten/wheat, etc.)
- Legumes (including beans, soy, etc.)
- Canola or vegetable oil
- Fast food, processed or packaged foods
Remember, that everyone’s body is different. As you are a bio-individual, the foods that make you feel bad may be different than your spouse, partner, or friend. I recommend that you experiment with different foods and track how you feel. Create a “food and feeling” journal where you log everything you eat and drink for 2 weeks and how you feel (about an hour later). Look for patterns and trends and become a food detective with the goal of getting to know your body and reducing any of your negative symptoms.
Let us know if you tried this anti inflammatory diet for chronic pain and how it has helped you.