Anti-Inflammatory Diet

A huge part of controlling chronic pain is controlling what you put into your body. Various foods may aggravate chronic pain conditions by increasing inflammation, thereby increasing pain, such as foods high in sugar, caffeine, red meat, simple carbohydrates (like white breads), artificial sweeteners, trans fats, foods high in Omega-6 (not Omega-3, the good one), some dairy, additives (like MSG), and junk foods. These all increase inflammatory processes in your body, making your pain worse. There is help out there, however, just around the corner at your local grocery store. You can greatly reduce your pain and inflammation just by altering what you include in your daily diet. There are great tasting, healthy foods out there that are easily accessible and easily transformed into delicious meals! Check out this list of anti-inflammatory foods:

  • oily fish: Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines all contains high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids that lower the incidence of inflammation in the body, and help protect your brain and nerves from deterioration. Include any of these fish in your diet three times a week to reap the most benefits
  • extra virgin olive oil: It contains Omega-3 fatty acids that lower inflammation, and help protect your brain and nerves from deterioration. It contains a compound called oleocanthal (this gives olive oil its taste) and has similar effects as NSAIDs in the body.
  • whole grains: Simple carbs like refined, white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta all run the risk of causing inflammation in the body by causing the release of an inflammatory marker in the body called C-reactive protein. By eating whole grains instead, you reduce the release of this pro-inflammatory marker, thereby reducing your overall inflammation. They also tend to have less sugar, doubling your anti-inflammatory benefits!
  • cruciferous vegetables: Dark leafy greens are an amazing source of vitamin E, which plays a huge anti-inflammatory role by protecting the body from pro-inflammatory chemicals called “cytokines”. Foods such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens are an amazing addition to your diet to help reduce the release of cytokines in the body. Another bonus, these dark leafy greens also contain high levels of various vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron, as well as disease-fighting phytochemicals. 
  • berries: Not only are these fruits loaded with vitamins, they are also oozing with antioxidant effects, which greatly lowers inflammation in the body.
  • Nuts: Almonds are an amazing source of fiber, calcium, and vitamin E; and walnuts have high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat. These nuts, along with all other, contain antioxidants, which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation.
  • turmeric: This is what makes curries yellow. It’s a root that is used in many styles of asian cooking, and it has wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits. It turns off NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the inflammatory process to occur.
  • garlic: In studies, garlic has been shown to work in a similar way as NSAIDs (pain reducing medications like ibuprofen) by shutting off pathways that lead to inflammation. It’s also a tasty addition to almost any dish!
  • peppers: Hot peppers contain a compound called “capsaicin”, which has been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation. It’s even added to many topical creams for this very purpose. Peppers, the brighter the color the better, are all a great source of important vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant– in turn, reducing inflammation).
  • tart cherries: Cherries are an amazing food option for reducing inflammatory pain diseases, such as gout. Certain studies have shown that they contain the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.