Chronic Pain and Nutrition: Can Our Diet Help Ease Our Pain?


“A well-balanced diet is also vital for building your body’s immune system and healing power. That’s why nutrition can be your ally in fighting pain and inflammation…Research suggests that there’s a link between diet and inflammation, which is your body’s response to injury or infection.” ~ Mayo Clinic

Although the exact reasons are unclear, as research is still in its infancy, there does seem to be some preliminary work which indicates….

that changes in our diet might help with pain.

  1. Inflammation-  is associated with several conditions related to Chronic Pain such as the chronic inflammation found in Rheumatoid Arthritis and osteoarthritis related to certain back, knee and joint disorders. Some foods offer the promise for protection against inflammation, while other foods might actually encourage it.

     A. Foods that can lead to increased levels of inflammation (and increased pain)

processed foods with their preservatives, saturated fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates, examples of such foods include quick-service restaurant foods, breakfast cereals, crackers, cookies and chips, many breads, certain meats like bacon and bologna, butter, 1/2 & 1/2, ice creams, and candy.

     B. Anti-inflammatory foods (shown to have nutrients in them that have anti-inflammatory or analgesic [de-sensitizing] properties that can help relieve pain)-

foods that contain omega-3 fats and antioxidant-rich foods, examples include flaxseed, walnuts, salmon and tuna, colorful fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, avocados, beets and berries,  and lentils and beans, whole grains, certain oils such as walnut or olive oils and even certain spices such as ginger and turmeric.

2. Tissue Degeneration and Cartilage Damage– associated with arthritis, various spinal and joint conditions. Some  preliminary research and Dr. Xin Li out of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have found that Resveratrol, a powerful compound that blocks the enzymes that contribute to these issues, can be found in cherries, particularly, and in blueberries, cranberries and red grapes (red wine is an excellent source) as well.

3. Headaches– there are various kinds of headaches and several associated with Chronic Pain. Caffeine has been shown both to help and to hurt in particular cases and quantities. An article that provides a good starting point for further investigation can be found at The National Headache Foundation.

The evidence for dietary connections with pain is still anecdotal, and it is important that you speak with your Doctor before trying any changes especially a comprehensive diet change (for example adopting a Mediterranean diet). Many of the suggestions above have everything to do with what we understand about healthy eating, pain or no pain, so, with Doctor’s blessing, it’s worth a try and given some time may just prove to help your quality of life. Every little bit helps, so cheers! Now where’s that glass of Cabernet?

Author: ChronicPainDailyReflections

I manage a web-site, Chronic Pain Daily, created for and in support of those living in chronic pain. The site helps with the day-to-day spiritual, mental, emotional and physical needs of those with constant pain, whatever its source.