nutrition is an important part of your overall health. A
healthy diet should include a variety of foods, including
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean
proteins and healthy fats. This gives your body the nutrients
and energy it needs to function properly.
well-balanced diet also is vital for building your body’s
immune system and healing power. That’s why nutrition can be
your ally in fighting pain and inflammation.
modifications are very important for helping someone manage
their overall pain," says Dr. Tina Ardon, a Mayo Clinic
family medicine physician. "Two important aspects to
think about upfront are a healthy diet and maintaining a
healthy weight. These two things can make great impacts on how
someone deals with their pain.
diet helping … or hurting?" Research indicates that
there is a link between diet and inflammation," says
Ardon. "Although this is a normal process in response to
an injury or an infection, sometimes inflammation can turn
into a chronic process and actually be widespread throughout
the body." Long-term inflammation is linked to several
diseases and conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and
heart disease." We know that some foods can contribute
to, or exacerbate, inflammation; whereas, other foods actually
can be helpful for reducing or preventing inflammation,"
clues that can make us think about a nutritional deficiency
may be things like joint pain, fatigue, disrupted sleep. Even
some skin findings can indicate a nutritional
deficiency," says Ardon. "So if a patient is
concerned that that could be something they’re dealing with,
they should speak to their health care provider and talk about
appropriate testing and examination."
foods are foods that can contribute to inflammation. Most
processed foods are pro-inflammatory, as they tend to be high
in unhealthy fats (including saturated and transfats), added
sugars, preservatives and refined carbohydrates.
terms of foods that can be pro-inflammation, those are foods
that include processed foods, carbohydrates, high sugars,
unhealthy fats," says Ardon. Deep-fried foods, pastries,
processed cereals, white rice, white potatoes, sugar, breads
and red meat are also pro-inflammatory foods.
that can help reduce inflammation, those are things like our
fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, those sorts of
things," says Ardon.
nutrients in some foods have anti-inflammatory or analgesic
properties that can help relieve pain. Anti-inflammatory foods
and other foods that contain omega-3 fats
fats play a role in altering the inflammatory process and
regulation of pain. Salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and herring
are high in these fats. Soy-based foods, walnuts, pecans and
ground flaxseed are also good sources of omega-3 fats.
fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, avocados, beets
and berries, are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can
prevent, delay or repair some types of cell and tissue damage.
Antioxidants include certain vitamins, minerals and plant
chemicals, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, carotene, lycopene
and flavonoids. A wide variety of other foods are also rich in
antioxidants, such as lentils and beans; nuts and seeds; whole
grains; green tea; and certain spices, such as ginger and
Certain dietary supplements
supplements that have been shown to help provide a healthy
balance of inflammatory chemicals in your body include the
botanicals cat’s claw, devil’s claw, ginger root, turmeric
and Boswellia (frankincense). Other nonherbal dietary
supplements, including omega-3 fish oil and antioxidants, are
helpful when you don’t get enough of these nutrients in your
diet. "Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion
regarding vitamin D, omega-3, turmeric and probiotics, says
Ardon. These can be helpful for certain patients, but always
recommend to review these recommendations with your
physician." Always talk to your health care provider
before starting any supplement regimen because some dietary
supplements can interact with prescription medications.
always encourage patients to reach out to their primary care
provider or other health care professionals in their care to
make sure whatever dietary changes or supplements they’re
interested in adding to their regimen are safe depending on
their personal health history and medications," says