Who Has Pain and Inflammation? Maybe you?
Pain and inflammation can impact your entire life. It can be completely debilitating and can also affect your mood and outlook on life. I work in the surgery department and I meet a lot, and I mean a lot, of people who are suffering from pain and inflammation. Many of these people are using canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to get around. I am not talking about elderly little old people here folks. I am speaking of people who are young and should be functional….and happy.
Recently I had a patient who was coming in for a shoulder replacement surgery. As I prepared him for surgery he kept saying “you know, my shoulder really is feeling pretty good right now.” He said that about 3 times and then looked up at me and said “I know this is weird but my shoulder feels great” Then he took his arm and put it directly over his head. Then he said “I don’t think I want surgery today.” Lucky for him I hadn’t put the IV in yet.
He proceeded to tell me he had started on an anti-inflammatory diet in the past month and he thought it may have improved the condition of his joint.
Anti-inflammatory foods have shown a positive effect on joint pain and inflammation as well as improved function. The effect of these foods, however, goes farther than just joint pain and inflammation. These foods also have a positive effect on vascular and internal inflammation which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. I don’t know about you but I want to add some of those foods to my diet.
Foods That Fight Pain and Inflammation
Omega 3s: Omega-3 has been shown to decrease inflammation. I have a friend who takes it specifically for arthritic joint pain and she swears by it. Studies have supported her passionate stance. Omega 3s have been shown beneficial in the treatment of lupus and Reynaud’s pain as well. There continues to be an ever-growing body of evidence that Omega 3s have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Berries: Berries are a rich source of anthocyanins which are anti-inflammatories that block the enzymes that can cause inflammation. Berries are a GREAT addition to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Cherries: Specifically, tart cherries have been shown to significantly decrease chronic inflammation . Studies show that 8 ounces of tart cherry juice taken daily will substantially decrease bodily inflammation. One study revealed that tart cherry extract is 10 times more powerful at relieving pain and inflammation than aspirin.
Tumeric: Tumeric has the highest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of any culinary herbs. Tumeric is often used in Indian cooking and is as flavorful as it is healthful. Tumeric suppresses pain and inflammation similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as acetaminophen. The mechanism of action is the same without the potential side effects.
Ginger: Ginger is a flavorful root that has pain and inflammation properties. Ginger contains compounds that act a lot like anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of Omega 3s and are full of inflammation fighting antioxidants. They have been shown effective in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol protecting your vascular system from inflammation.
Whole Grains: A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that people who eat more whole grains have less inflammation in their body. Specifically, these people had lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood stream which is a marker for inflammation in the body. Whole wheat pasta and breads also contain selenium which is an anti-inflammatory anti-oxidant.
Pineapple: Pineapple is rich in vitamin C which is necessary in the synthesis of connective tissue such as tendons, ligaments, and bone. Pineapple also contains bromelain which is a compound that has been shown to decrease pain and swelling in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: Veggies like Kale and spinach have a high alkaline mineral content which are super inflammation fighters.
Basil: Basil is my favorite herb and can be used liberally in almost any dish from salads to sandwiches to elegant meals. The oil in basil fights inflammation by inhibiting the enzymes that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Tylenol inhibit.
Following a diet geared at decreasing pain and inflammation is really no different from following a healthy well-balanced diet. Eat the colors of the rainbow, high quality proteins with healthy fats and whole grains and you will reap the benefits of a healthy body without pain and inflammation.