As 2012 rapidly comes to a close, and the holiday season in full swing, we enter a time of year where sweets, cookies, alcohol and celebratory meals often dominate. We gave you pain and the brain, now we give you food and pain.
This topic is often overlooked in the medical community. Diagnostic imaging provides great visualization of structural problems, medications help manage painful conditions, but how often do we consider that food might have an impact on how we feel physically? We all know that we feel tired after we eat a large meal, or feel ‘lousy’ after a fatty or greasy meal; so why then do we often overlook the fact that food and nutrients may contribute to painful symptoms? How does food contribute to the healing process? While we don’t pretend to be nutrition experts, or advocating any particular diet (though we certainly have our opinions), please note that we simply hope to point out common themes with foods and nutrients and how they contribute to the perception of pain.
1) Inflammation or Pain is Driven by the Immune System.
2) Inflammation is the immune system doing its job; This is your body’s attempt to stop injury and initiate recovery.
3) 70% of the cells of the immune system operate in the gut!
4) Food can cause an immune system response. Food allergies can reinforce a chronic immune system response. There is a reason certain foods ‘upset our stomachs’
5) Elimination of certain foods can help your food! Corn, eggs, dairy, soy, sugar, wheat, yeast are all common food allergens. Think this might be you? Try eliminating one of these for a few days and see if your symptoms change!
6) Bacteria that live in the GI system can be a source of inflammation. This can be from food, viruses, repeated antibiotics. Probiotics are found in yogurts and certain vegetables and fruits.
7) Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are well documented to have anti-inflammatory properties. These foods include: fish, flaxseed, walnuts.
8) Omega-6 fatty acids can create systemic inflammation. These foods include: breads, pastas, corn syrup, seed/vegetable oils. Typical Western diets have an Omega-6 to Omega 3 ratio of over 30:1!
9) Free radicals are naturally occurring, highly reactive molecules that play an essential role in cellular repair and immune system response. Free radicals work to break down cells. Tissue damage, injury, immune responses, pollution, and pesticides can all create free radicals.
10) Antioxidants can help control free radicals and control pain. This is found in fruits; particularly in cherry juice concentrate and blueberries!
11) Vitamins and supplements are ok, but real food is best. Vegetables, fruit and healthy meats will win EVERY time.
12) As with much of the nutrition world, there is tons of other information out there on this topic…some good, some bad. Consult with a qualified professional for more advice.