No one likes to be in pain. Whether it's the result of a recent injury or a chronic ache that's been lingering for years, we all want to get rid of our pain ASAP. Alongside working with a skilled rehabilitation therapist, many of us may find pain relief from a few dietary adjustments too. Here are my top tips for reducing chronic pain from the inside out:
1. Increase omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fatty acids contain EPA and DHA. Intake of these can help the body create more 'pro-resolution molecules' - the substances that reduce inflammation.
They can be found in wild fatty fish such as Alaskan salmon, mackerel & sardines or a good quality fish oil supplement.
2. Increase anti-oxidant intake
'Free radicals' are inflammation - causing molecules that often exist in the body as a result of over-consuming vegetable oils & processed foods. I like to think of them like naughty children at a birthday party - high on energy and wreaking havoc wherever they go.
Antioxidants are the antithesis of free radicals. They are like the adult that calms and disciplines the child. They stabilise free radicals and prevent them from causing further damage in the body. High levels of antioxidants can be found in almost all fruit & vegetables.
3. Add bone broth to your diet
If you're not sure what bone broth is, ask your Gran. Research from the Weston A Price Foundation shows that many ancient cultures consumed some form of broth and what's more, it was revered as a health food in all of them too. Bone broth is made by boiling organic (this is an important factor) meat or fish bones into a broth/stock. This can be used as a base for soups, sauces & terrines, or simply consumed as a healthy warming beverage. Bone broth typically contains high levels of proteins (eg arginine, cysteine, glutamine) along with minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorous, which are all required for the repair of soft tissue, bones & joints.
If you make a meat bone broth, you can specifically boil the joints of a carcass to gain health benefits for your joints too. The Weston A Price Foundation states, " [bone broth] contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain."
TIP: if you don't have the time or inclination to make bone broth, powdered Collagen such as that produced by Great Lakes contains high levels of some of the same nutrients and can therefore be an adequate substitute.
4. Magnesium supplementation
Magnesium is the body's 'calming mineral'. If we have continual pain or soreness, it can activate our bodies' stress response. In the short term this may protect us from feeling as much pain, however in the long term this could drastically slow down our recovery.
Magnesium has an ability to calm our stress response and relax tense muscles and soft tissue. It can be particularly effective when it is absorbed through the skin in the form of magnesium oil or a magnesium bath. Please note: care should be taken with Magnesium supplementation, particularly if you have any blood pressure issues
5. Eliminating night shades
For those of us suffering with chronic pain, we may find that eliminating a class of plants called 'nightshades' from our diets can help.
Nightshades are found in:
Nightshades are high in a substance called calcitrol which in some people may cause the body to lay down excess calcium. This can calcify the muscles, soft tissues and bones.
For those who are sensitive to night shades, removing these foods from the diet could provide pain relief.
7. Reducing your every day stress
When we are stressed, precious energy is diverted from our healing systems to our 'flight or fight' systems. What's more, when we are stressed our digestive system is also inhibited, meaning that we can make all of the dietary changes in the world but our bodies may not benefit from the extra nutrients if we cannot digest them.
Consistent sleep, a positive attitude, the right amount of movement and the tools to cope with our emotional stresses, can all have a huge impact on the speed of our recovery.
Before making any of these changes, I highly recommend working with a medical or nutritional professional to test your immune response, stress profile, nutrient status & inflammatory markers. Some of these tests can be run through your GP (eg inflammatory markers such as cholesterol, CRP, Tnf-a), however some specific lab tests (eg salivary stress profile & certain food sensitivity testing) may only be available via a functional medicine practitioner.
To find out more about how your diet can help you get out of pain, you can contact Samantha on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.hpersonalcoaching.com