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Is there a chronic-pain diet?!

by Eimear Martin



There seems to be a diet for everything nowadays, so is there a chronic-pain diet?!


Nutrition is an extremely important part of your health. It can often be neglected as our lives are moving so quickly and there are more important things to think about. Chronic pain is often coupled with poor nutritional status such as malnutrition, unhealthy dietary habits and negative relationships with food. However, nutrition can be a powerful tool which can aid in reducing chronic pain symptoms and improving overall health. This can happen in the form of reducing inflammation, reducing fatigue and lethargy and reducing the sensations of pain. Most importantly, remember that food = energy.


Inflammation is an important topic to think about when we consider pain. When our body continues to be in a state of alarm after a wound or injury has healed, this causes chronic inflammation (generally causing the onset on chronic pain). Similarly, putting the wrong foods into our body can cause our body to be in a state of high alert and increase inflammation. 


What diet causes inflammation?


The nutrition world has labelled the Western diet as the most inflammatory diet. These foods include highly processed items such as fatty carbs (pizza, fries, chips, cakes etc), high sugar food and drinks (lollies, fizzy drinks) and red and processed meats (salami, ham, fatty red meat). The main issue with these foods being labelled as pro-inflammatory is that they are EVERYWHERE. The cheapest and easiest foods to acquire in our busy lifestyles are generally the ones that are the worst for us. These foods are chemically composed to supply us with a lot of energy quickly, followed by an energy crash and subsequent hunger. 


What food reduces inflammation?


Omega 3s: Omega 3 helps to reduce pain sensation and inflammation in the body. Oily fish (salmon, mackeral), spinach, kale flaxseed and chia seeds are great sources of omega 3. If you don’t like any of these you can get omega 3 supplements!


Fibre: Reduces constipation which can aggravate back pain. Fibre can be found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains (brown bread and brown pasta). Increasing your fibre intake, can help you to feel fuller for longer and more energetic throughout the day!

 

Vitamin C: Vitamin C supports our immune system. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes), tomatoes, capsicum and strawberries. This is really important to help our cells to function properly and fight disease and bacteria that can enter the body.


Cooking might be the last thing on your list of priorities but learning the basics of cooking and slowly introducing healthier options, will bring you less pain and increase your energy. Healthier pre-prepared meals with meat and vegetables are usually cheaper than takeaways and can be delivered to your home!


So to answer the question "is there a chronic pain diet?"- no, there is no specific diet for chronic pain patients. However, with some small changes, you can minimise inflammation and pain sensations!


Eimear Martin

AfN Registered Associate Nutritionist




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