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Pain and your diet

Both the foods that you eat and your weight can affect your pain levels. Whilst there is no magic bullet diet that can guarantee you a pain free life, there are certainly foods such as omega 3 fats, that can influence your pain.

So if you experience chronic pain either through arthritis or an old injury, or even recovering from a surgical procedure, it can be well worth the time to book an appointment with a Nutritionist to take a look at your diet.

Fats in particular play an important role in pain. Certain fats are what we call “inflammation”. Now I use this term with great caution because anti-inflammatory diets are highly popular. But because of their highly reductionist proponents miss a few key points.

All inflammation is not bad.

Our bodies need some inflammation. Inflammation causes our blood to clot when we cut ourselves, it is our immune system responding to an infection or even an insect bite, it’s the annoying but necessary swelling around an injury that actually protects the site and it is the fever your body produces to kill off the flu.

Inflammation is only a problem when our body’s produce too much of it, and yes, our diet can contribute to this.

Consuming large amounts of saturated fats, such as those from fatty cuts of red meat, highly processed foods or large amounts of dairy can have an inflammatory affect on our body. These are not only bad for your heart, but can also increase your pain.

However consuming moderate amounts of fats such as omega 3s from linseed, flaxseed, walnuts, salmon and other oily fish like sardines, can make your nerves less sensitive to pain.

Will it happen overnight though? No, unfortunately not. It can take up to three months for those healthier fats to start to make a difference. It really should be part of an overall strategy to improve your diet.

For a diet that can help reduce your pain, look for these things in your shopping trolley:

  • Vegetarian sources of protein like tofu, beans, lentils and other legumes
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • A rainbow of fruits and vegetables
  • Skim or low fat varieties of cheese, milk and yoghurts
  • Wholegrain products such as wholemeal pasta, bread, brown rice, rolled oats

And limit or avoid these:

  • Highly processed snacks
  • Roasted and salted nuts
  • Sweetened yoghurts
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Sugary beverages like juices, cordials and soft drink (including diet drinks)
  • Pastries

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