How Diet Affects Pain

How Diet Affects Pain

You know that phrase “you are what you eat?” Well, to some extent it applies to patients living with chronic pain. Unfortunately, research has indicated eating certain foods can exacerbate pain symptoms—especially for those with arthritis, fibromyalgia and/or chronic headaches. The pain management physicians at American Spine provide effective treatment options for patients with spine and chronic pain conditions, but sometimes, patients may need to make certain lifestyle changes in order for these therapies to be most powerful.

Additives = Increased Pain

Foods that have lots of “additives” or “preservatives” in them can make headaches and muscle or joint pain much worse. Unfortunately these chemicals have the ability to activate neurons in the brain that increase your sensitivity to pain. Some of the most common additives known for this are:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG; a flavor enhancer)
  • Aspartame (artificial sweetener)
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS; artificial sweetener)
  • Monoglycerides, diglycerides, nitrates, benzoates (preservatives)

If you truly want to minimize your pain, try eating fresh foods over foods that have been “prepared” and packaged up.

Consume More Vitamin D

Researchers from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom studied vitamin D deficiencies in over 2,300 men and noted those with inadequate amounts were more than twice as likely to experience chronic pain than those who had higher levels. Moreover, vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to serious health conditions like osteoporosis and an increased preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in urine after the 20th week of pregnancy) risk in pregnant women. To get your fix of vitamin D, try eating fatty fishes, mushrooms, egg yolks, liver, milk or fish-liver oils. The best way to get vitamin D is through sunlight, but remember to protect yourself with lots of SPF (over 30 is preferred!).

Fresh Fruits & Veggies Can Fight Free Radicals!

Fruits and veggies have lots of strong antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E that fight free radicals. When you’re body fights free radicals, your stress and pain symptoms decrease significantly. Other studies have indicated eating raw foods can improve pain symptoms as well, so you should be including raw foods in general like walnuts, flaxseed and fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Have you changed your diet recently to fight pain? If so, what are some of your tips? Include them in the comment section below!

At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

©PainMedGroup, 2015

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