Studies have shown that a diet plan for pain rich in whole fruits and vegetables plus omega-3 fatty acids (like fish and avocado) reduces painful inflammation in the joints. Eating foods with the opposite effect can greatly increase inflammation, aggravating pain and lengthening healing time for people with joint and muscle problems.
Knowing why this happens and which foods to avoid can help pain sufferers take better care of their bodies. Follow these guidelines for nutrition and pain management to reduce your suffering and keep your pain under control.
Which foods cause inflammation?
- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils like safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, and soy
- Omage-6 fatty acids, found in the above oils plus poultry, seeds and some nuts
- Carbohydrates, especially refined starches like white sugar, white bread, rice and potatoes
- Hydrogenated oils
- Fried foods high in fat
- Processed foods like hot dogs and pre-packaged snacks
Why do these foods cause inflammation?
Inflammation from diet can be rooted in two major factors: omega-6 fatty acids and glycemic load.
It’s important to maintain a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet – both are healthy fats, but the average American diet contains a 10:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids whereas our ancestors ate a diet consisting of a 1:1 ratio. The high proportion of omega-6 means that the body will be converting excess fatty acids into arachidonic acid, which inflames the body. Balancing one’s diet helps keep inflammation in check.
The other factor is related to glycemic index , or the way a food impacts our blood sugar. Eating high-starch foods that immediately convert into sugar in the body causes a drastic release of insulin, which also affects the balance of eicosanoid hormones in the cells. When eicosanoids fall out of balance due to high levels of insulin, their pro-inflammatory compounds irritate the body and increase inflammation. A nutritionist for pain can help pain sufferers design a diet that works for them and decreases their body’s inflammatory response.