Factors That Affect Pain That can be Controlled by Diet
Chronic pain is often the result of chronic inflammation. Inflammation helps the immune system tackle injury or infection. Although, sometimes inflammation sticks around for much too long. This can lead to adverse health effects. For example, it can cause pain in the muscles, tissues, and joints, and/or damage cells and organs.
Inflammation is triggered by the immune system. So, we must consider this when trying to remedy the problem. The immune system can be thrown off by a poor diet. Processed foods, with low nutritional value, can trigger an immune response. Likewise, a lack of healthy nutrients can change how the immune system responds. Either can lead to more inflammation.
Foods that are rich with antioxidants are anti-inflammatory. This means they calm inflammation. Eating more antioxidant-rich foods can prevent and improve pain flare-ups. Antioxidants are found in berries, nuts, dark leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids can also control inflammation. This healthy type of fat is found in olive and flaxseed oils, and fatty fish (e.g., salmon). Omega-3s reduce two proteins that are responsible for inflammation. They are called C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and interleukin-6.
**Note before beginning the following section: Your worth in this world is not tied to your body size. All body sizes are beautiful – each person is unique and special. Additionally, health is not always associated with body weight. Further, we are not suggesting that you drop extreme amounts of weight. Before losing weight, you should talk with your doctor. They may have some additional resources or recommend against it based on your own personal health. Lastly, weight-loss should not be your primary goal. Focus on increasing your activity and eating healthier foods; then, weight loss will naturally follow. We do not condone or recommend unhealthy routes of weight loss.**
Some chronic pain conditions are worsened by excess bodyweight. If you have pain in weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, spine, hips, or feet, this might apply to you.
Extra body weight increases pressure on the body’s frame. It may cause added wear and tear to your body. Studies suggest that dropping just one pound can reduce up to four pounds of pressure on the knees. Further, for those with arthritis, pain relief and daily functioning improves as more weight is lost. For fibromyalgia, migraines, and some bone or muscle disorders, weight loss has been shown to reduce pain and improve quality of life.
Being overweight can also reduce your ability to move or exercise easily. This can lead to further chronic pain issues, like loss of muscle mass and flexibility.
Unfortunately, it’s common for pain-relieving medications to cause weight gain. For example, taking opioids can cause sugar cravings. Eating large amounts of carbs (sugar and starch) can make your blood sugar levels unstable. This causes weight gain.
Controlling your carb and fat intake can help regulate your weight. This can improve your pain levels. Speaking to your doctor about weight loss is an essential step in this process. However, cutting out processed foods that are high in sugar is an easy place to start.
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