Anti-inflammatory Diet and Chronic Pain

While a special anti-inflammatory diet can be beneficial for everyone (especially when it comes to preventing arthritis, cardiovascular problems, and other diseases), it’s particularly helpful for those who suffer from chronic back pain. The direct link between nutrient intake and pain management often goes overlooked, but it’s been scientifically proven that some foods can cause inflammation levels to swell while others create drastic improvement.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Trans Fats: Trans fats have been shown to damage the cells that line blood vessels and, thus, induce inflammation. Because of this, avoiding excessive amounts of trans fats is one of the most effective preventative measures that one can take.
  • Sugar: Consuming too much sugar can cause the body to deploy cytokines, tiny proteins that work as messengers. Many of these proteins cause inflammation by activating certain sensory neurons; this process not only induces pain but can also cause it to persist.
  • White Breads: The body quickly converts refined carbohydrates (which include white bread, white pastas, and white rice) into sugar. Studies have shown that diets high in both sugar and refined grains cause a swell of inflammation markers in the blood.

Foods to Eat:

  • Fatty Fish (Omega-3): Salmon, tuna, and sardines are known to have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to significantly reduce inflammation. In order to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, several servings of oily fish should be included in a weekly diet, and they should be cooked in healthy ways (such as baking or broiling).
  • Whole Grains: Fiber is a crucial component in decreasing the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood; CRP is a substance that is created by the liver that encourages inflammation. Additionally, whole grains have less sugar than their refined counterparts, preventing the body from becoming further inflamed.
  • Produce: It’s no secret that fruit and vegetables are good for you; they’re often dense with nutrients—most importantly, antioxidants. Carotenoids, flavonoids, and vitamins A, C, and E, to name a few. While no particular fruit or vegetable is “bad” for you, some offer greater benefits than others. These include kale, spinach, berries, peppers, and cherries.

At the Pain Institute of Southern Arizona, we highly encourage those suffering from chronic pain to consider an anti-inflammatory diet. Countless numbers of scientific studies, conducted over the past few decades, have established the importance of nutrient intake when it comes to combating specific issues, including inflammation and its direct contribution to prolonged aches and pains. So if you’re one of the millions who suffer from chronic pain contact our pain clinic in Tucson. Our board certified pain management physicians excel at not only helping you to find the perfect diet for your needs but also providing back pain relief through a variety of treatments and strategies.

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.