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The role of nutrition in pain and inflammation


Do you suffer from chronic pain? Did you know that diet can play an integral role in management of pain?

Inflammation can best be defined as the response to toxins. This is why as we age managing our diet even more closely can be crucial in pain related factors related to inflammation. 
By incorporating anti-inflammatory foods/supplements and minimizing pro-inflammatory foods can help reduce chronic pain.


Here are 10 simple dietary modifications that have many beneficial outcomes.


1) Reduce dairy intake. Dairy is a pro-inflammatory food and by reducing it in your diet you can reduce many of the associated internal inflammatory responses of the body. With so many vegan based yogurts, ice-creams and cheese options this is a very easy lifestyle modification.

If you like to add cream to your coffee consider almond milk.


2) Add Fish-oil to your diet. The brand I recommend the most to my patients in Nordic Naturals Omega-3. I do not have any financial backing from this company, it is just one that I trust and use myself. There are so many studies done on the anti-inflammatory benefits associated with fish oil. In fact when I have a headache instead of taking an ibuprofen I reach for a Nordic Naturals instead.


3) Eat more vegetables. Having 5-6 servings of different colors of the rainbow as vegetables through-out the day will really help increase the anti-inflammatory responses in the body. This also leads to number 4.


4) Mange your weight. By consuming more vegetables you will feel more satiated and eat less sugar and simple carbohydrates which can help manage your weight.


5) Reduce red meat. This is not the favorite recommendation among my patients, however red meat consumption should be limited to 1-2 times a month. Yes that does seem awfully low to many, but it is do-able. You can still consume chicken, turkey and my personal favorite… fish. This leads to number 6.


6) Eat more fish. Adding fish into your diet 3 times a week is highly associated with anti-inflammatory response. Reach for smaller fish that swim in rivers like Salmon and trout.


7) Check your vitamin D level. I find that many of my patients are deficient in Vit D and it is such an important micronutrients. Be sure to have your doctor check your level annually and get a recommend dosage of Vit D (in IU's) to help correct your deficiency.


8) Reduce simple carbohydrates. Instead of filling up on white bread, white rice and white pasta opt out for whole grain breads, quinoa, brown rice and zucchini pasta. Simple carbohydrates break down to sugar more quickly and therefore cause an inflammatory response.


9) Add some Curcumin into your diet. Curcumin is derived from Turmeric. This is a natural spice that also enhances the flavor of food. You can add it to your tea, take it as a supplement or marinate your salmon in it. The options of getting this wonderful anti-inflammatory food into your diet are simple.


10) Eat foods high in alpha-lipoic acid. Some common foods that contain this are: spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, beets, and carrots. This is also a bonus one because all of them are also a vegetable. This way you can attend to number 3 as well.


Written By: Hoda Hakimjavadi, MS, RDN

Hoda is a clinical dietitian currently working with critically ill patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA hospital.  She received her undergraduate degree from UCLA and her masters in nutrition with a combined dietetics program at CSUN. She conducted her clinical rotations at Cedars Sinai hospital.

For more content written by Hoda, you can follow her on Instagram @HealthyByHoda. For contact information check out her website HealthyByHoda.Com

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