“If we are not feeding our cells appropriately, or we are feeding our cells toxic products or inflammatory products, the end result is going to be inflammation and pain.”
That’s the opinion of Robert Bonakdar, MD, Director of Pain Management for the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, who addressed the 2016 meeting of the American Academy of Pain Management.
Dr. Bonakdar went on to outline his top eight tips for using food to reduce pain.
- “Excess grains can be inflammatory, especially if there are issues with celiac (disease) or sensitivity.” To make the situation even worse, many people consume grains in the form of highly processed foods. They’re quick and inexpensive. But you’re at risk of worsening your pain if you eat them. And there’s no upside — these types of products have little or no nutritional value.
- About 70% of the population has a magnesium deficiency, and about 20% of the population aren’t even getting half of the daily requirement. There’s a strong association between lack of magnesium and migraine, said Dr Bonakdar. “The odds of migraine go up by 35-fold if you have a magnesium deficiency.”
- Another deficiency — in vitamin D — is also important for pain alleviation. “At least 70% to 80% of pain patients have a vitamin D deficiency, which can make nerves hypersensitive.”
- A low-glycemic-index diet, high in polyphenols, fiber, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and healthy sources of protein, has a positive impact on pain. Foods with a low glycemic index don’t give your body an instant sugar rush. Instead, your body processes them more slowly, benefitting your microbiome and increasing bacterial diversity in your gut.
- One of the spices known to reduce inflammation and limit pain is curcumin, a constituent of turmeric. Studies support this benefit of curcumin in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – found in marine oils, grass-fed beef and bison — is another important nutrient when it comes to pain prevention.
- Supplementation with the anti-oxidant coenzyme Q10 has been linked to pain reduction, particularly in migraine.
- Don’t forget the importance of mindful eating. According to Dr. Bonakdar. “How much you’re putting on your plate, how you’re preparing that food, and how quickly you’re eating it, all inform the occurrence of inflammation.”