Reduce Inflammation to Reduce Chronic Pain
In Part 1 of this article series, Most Chronic Pain Can Be Summed Up As Inflammation, we went over the causes of inflammation and how it is the culprit for many cases of chronic pain. In this article, we will get into what you can do to reduce inflammation, so you can enjoy a pain-free life.
As I mentioned, most inflammation is a result of poor healthy lifestyle conditions. This is actually good news because it means you can also reduce or even eliminate inflammation and the pain that comes along with it by adopting a healthier lifestyle. You are in control! Here are some steps you can take to create a healthier lifestyle:
Avoid Foods That Cause Inflammation
- Polyunsaturated, Hydrogenated Oils including: safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn and cottonseed oil. (NOTE: these oils are often found in processed foods).
- Refined Carbohydrates, such as anything that contains white flour like muffins, bagels, pretzels, white pasta, chips and white bread. These foods convert to sugar in the body too quickly, often causing high blood sugar, which causes the body to release more pro-inflammatory messengers.
- Excess Sugar, which can be found in soda, juice, desserts and many processed foods. Just like refined carbohydrates, these foods increase blood sugar levels.
- Trans Fats, as found in many processed foods such as chips, cookies and crackers.
- High-Gluten Foods, because gluten causes inflammation. The quality of our food is not what it used to be and even wheat contains much more gluten now than it used to, resulting in a gluten sensitivity for many people. To learn more about gluten, read our article: Gluten-Free – What’s the Deal?
- Processed Foods, even “healthy” ones. As mentioned many times above, processed foods just don’t cut it where health is concerned. We weren’t meant to consume chemically created foods. Natural, whole foods are what were intended to keep our bodies balanced.
- Stimulants like coffee and cigarettes.
- Foods You Are Allergic To, because allergies are a form of inflammation; therefore even a mild allergy to a food can lead to inflammation in the body. If consumed on a regular basis, chronic pain can result.
Maintain a Healthier Diet
The good news is that there are plenty of great-tasting foods that help reduce inflammation, and I’ve listed some of them below. But it is important to point out that you can’t expect to get results by adding any of the foods below to your diet while continuing to consume mostly processed foods.
- Cherries – This fruit blocks inflammation and actually helps inhibit pain just like aspirin does. It is especially helpful for arthritis and muscle pain.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is especially good for joint pain.
- Ginger – Ginger helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, like aspirin does. It is very helpful for migraines, arthritis and muscle pain.
- Omega-3 – This nutrient improves blood flow and reduces inflammation in the blood vessels. Omega-3 is contained in flax seed, chia seed, coldwater fish such as salmon, walnuts and supplements.
- Olive Oil – This healthy fat is high in oleic acid, an omega-9 that contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Learn more about olive oil by reading our article: Explaining Vital Oils
- Cranberry – This fruit helps prevent ulcers and urinary tract infections. Purchase only 100% fruit because the sugars added to juices that are not 100% fruit actually cause inflammation. Remember the purest you can go, the better.
- Probiotics – This digestive enzyme helps reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, and the digestive tract has an impact on your entire body. Probiotics are found in yogurt, but only the ones with “live and active cultures” found on the label. They can also be taken in supplement form.
- Bioflavonoids – This nutrient is found in citrus fruits, vegetables, cocoa, tea, wine, pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), grape seed extract and Quercetin (which can be purchased in supplement form).
- All Antioxidants – This is especially useful for inflammation of the brain, which can cause depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders. According to an article by GreenMedInfo.com called, Are Mental Disorders the Result of Neuroinflammation?, “numerous studies have shown that antioxidants neutralize oxidative radicals that produce inflammation.” The article went on to say that “Many mental disorders are in fact produced by poor diets and poor lifestyles, and thus are to a great degree preventable.” For more information about antioxidants, read our article: Explaining Antioxidants.
- All Herbs and Spices – Unless you are allergic to one or eat excessive amounts, you can’t really go wrong with herbs and spices. They all contain anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants.
Detoxify Several Times a Year
Our immune systems go on overload when we are constantly exposed to chemicals like we are everyday of our lives in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the synthetic fabrics we wear, sit on and walk on, the chemicals we use to clean with, the pesticides on our food, etc. Detoxing helps to remove some of these toxins and is an important part of ridding your body of inflammation.
Get an Adequate Amount of Exercise
Your body produces natural anti-inflammatory agents when you exercise on a regular basis, so it is important to keep moving.
Watch Your Weight
Excess fat and inflammation go hand-in-hand, so in order to reduce chronic pain, it is necessary to keep your weight at a healthy level. Fortunately, any amount of weight loss will help reduce inflammation and a full reversal is possible for most conditions.
Don’t Deprive Yourself of Sleep
You’ve probably heard that your body heals while you are sleeping, and part of that healing process is to undo the inflammation caused throughout your day. Be sure you give yourself adequate sleep to help your body do that (7-9 hours each night).
Mind, Body Care
Take care of yourself and help your body regularly eliminate toxins. People do this in many ways, ranging from acupuncture, massage and bodywork to biofeedback, chiropractic work, meditation, Tai chi and yoga.
Are Mental Disorders a Result of Neuroinflammation
5 Food Medicines That Could Quite Possibly Save Your Life
Prevention Magazine – Foods That Fight Pain, September 2012
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