Nobody experiences pain in the same way.

This is a known fact, of course, but it impacts the way we talk about certain foods that can affect people with pain conditions. For someone suffering from fibromyalgia, the diet recommendations may differ from somebody suffering from arthritis. Therefore, the best plan for finding pain healthy foods is to talk to your pain doctor who is aware of your specific condition. Next week on the blog, we’ll also be dipping into more specific nutrition recommendations for pain populations, such as those who suffer from headaches, low back pain, or fibromyalgia.

However, there are some generally accepted diet principles that can benefit anybody living with pain. Incorporating both of these pain healthy diets into your life can create a foundation that can then be modified according to your specific pain condition.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that is based around eating foods that help reduce, rather than create, inflammation within the body. It is based around heart-healthy fats, such as those found in salmon, olive oil, and nuts; whole grains; dark green leafy vegetables; and tea.

Dr. Andrew Weil was one of the first proponents of this approach. On his website, he notes:

“Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help counteract the chronic inflammation that is a root cause of many serious diseases… It is a way of selecting and preparing foods based on science that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.”

You can find Dr. Weil’s complete anti-inflammatory food pyramid here. Some of the specific foods that have been found to have anti-inflammatory compounds include soy products, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and berries.

Practice “clean” eating 

Especially for those people suffering from gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease, eating fresh, whole, clean foods is extremely important. While there is no one definition for what “clean” eating means, it generally means to remove as many processed foods from the diet as possible. Preservatives and additives often added to packaged food items can exacerbate and worsen pain symptoms. 

To do this, focus in on fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats. Try to cook as much as you can from scratch, at home, in order to truly control what goes into your body. Many food blogs and magazines, like Clean Eating, provide tips for incorporating more clean foods and recipes into your diet.

What types of foods seem to help your pain symptoms the most? Have you considered following either of these pain healthy diet principles to help control your pain? 

Image by Pen Waggener via Flicker

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