Having pain is something that no one wants to experience even once, let alone daily, and yet chronic pain is not unusual in today’s society. The Chronic Pain Association estimates that 50 million Americans endure chronic pain on a daily basis. Whether you suffer from Fibromyalgia Arthritis, or a Sports Injury, pain from the inflammatory response finds us and can make life miserable. Taking anti-inflammatory medications for pain management is the first defense against chronic or acute pain. Research shows if you want to add even more relief to your pain symptoms you can make some small changes to your diet.
Foods that have the greatest effect on the inflammatory process are fats. The predominant omega-6 fatty acids present in the American diet tend to promote inflammation while omega-3 fatty acids help to inhibit the inflammatory process. The omega 6 to omega-3 ratio in the Western diet is a high 16:1.8 leading some researchers to say the typical Western diet is a pro-inflammatory diet. Even though omega-6 fatty acids are good for us and needed in the diet, we are eating far too many of them and not eating enough of the health-promoting omega-3. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in beef, pork, chicken, whole milk dairy products, egg yolks, vegetable and seed oils, and packaged convenience foods, which are all staples of the American diet. The pain reducing Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, and tuna), ground flax seeds, canola oil, and walnuts.
There is one more fatty acid to throw into the mix and that is omega-9. It’s not as much of an attention getting fatty acid but just as important to know about. These fatty acids are also involved in prohibiting the inflammation process bringing relief to its sufferers. Omega-9s are found in olive oil, avocados, pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, sesame oil, pistachio nuts, and macadamia nuts. All those nuts you thought were off limits, not anymore. Just make sure you only eat 10 to 12 nuts for a serving size so you don’t add to your waistline, while dealing with pain management, with these high calorie snacks.
Fruits and Vegetables are good for us. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables play a role in decreasing damage by free radicals which to you and me means it prevents the initiation of the inflammatory response nipping it in the bud. What’s the recommendation? The same as it has always been, 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It’s not as tough as it seems. A serving size of fruit is the size of a tangerine or half of a banana while the serving size for vegetables is 2/3 cup cooked and 1 cup raw. Add some berries to your cereal, some vegetable soup with lunch, or sneak veggies into your scrambled eggs, add them wherever you can to receive the proper nutrients and get help with pain management.
Although this doesn’t count as a legitimate study, some long term arthritis sufferers decided to put some of these ideas into practice. They decided to take 2 tbsp. of ground flax seeds per day which they added to their oatmeal in the morning. They also added almonds regularly. That was it. No other changes and the individuals found their arthritis pain markedly decreased. It goes to show that small nutrition changes can make a big impact on your pain management health.
Now that you know the information, let’s get practical. Here are 8 small diet changes you can make starting this week to decrease inflammation.
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