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Get Rid of Pain with...Food?

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

When it comes to food, I am a big fan of eat what you want. However, in order for this to work, you have to know what you want. And what you want can't be entirely based on taste. Food is fuel for our bodies, but it can also be used to improve our mood. I'll tell you right now I am a much better person after a dozen wings and a beer, but I'm not necessarily the best athlete afterwards.

When we are injured, the fuel we use in our body should complement the healing process, not hinder it. For this reason, when pain and injury are lingering, being selective with food becomes key.

The food we eat can increase pain if it creates an exaggerated inflammatory response. Inflammation occurs after an injury (and sometimes with long-standing injuries), with disease and in response to what our body ingests. In order to limit an exaggerated inflammatory response (which will cause more damage and prolong the healing process) it is important to direct our diet toward foods that have a positive effect on inflammation.

Inflammatory foods

-Processed food: If you pick up a package and it has more than 2-3 ingredients, it is processed. These types of foods have complex structures (often which are made in a lab) and that poses a threat to our gut. To make sure everything is safe, we send inflammation into our blood stream to meet these questionable ingredients and kill anything that might be a danger. This food group includes TV dinners, bread (even wheat), snack cakes, oreos, etc. Essentially, if it didn't come from the ground or another animal in the same form it is in now, it had to be processed to get there.

-Vegetable Oils: Safflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, and the like are not naturally liquid. We as humans need to do some serious lab work to convert these hard seeds and vegetables into oils. Our body recognizes this as a threat too, and requires inflammation to make sure everything is ok.

-Trans Fats: cookies, butter, candy, (basically anything delicious), margarine. These food groups have always been the enemy, but boy do we love them here in America.

-Hydrogenated Oils: peanut oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, whipped cream etc. The hydrogenation of oil once again, looks dangerous to our insides.

-Night shades: I question adding this to the list. Night shades are only inflammatory in a small subset of the population that has a genetic predisposition to night shade vegetables. I won't list them because if you don't have this predisposition, I do not want to encourage limiting your vegetable intake.

-Gluten: Similar to night shades, not everyone has an inflammatory response to gluten. However, there are plenty of sources of carbohydrate (vegetables) that do not contain gluten and should be prioritized over gluten containing sources of carbohydrate. To put it simply, that old Food Pyramid where grains were the big section at the bottom, don't eat much of those. Those probably contain gluten, are dense carbohydrates, and will produce inflammation. Instead, get your carbs from vegetables.

Processed foods cause inflammation and pain.
Can't tell how it grew? It's processed.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Oils/Fats: Olive oil and fish oil. Nuts, seeds, legumes, fat from salmon (fish).

Carbohydrates: vegetables like bell peppers (not spicy), spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, turnips, carrots, etc.

Protein: chicken, fish, red meat, pork. Tip: if you are going to eat a fatty piece of meat (like a rib eye) get it organic. The hormones that are used to keep animals healthy before they get butchered are stored in the fat. Therefore, if you eat organic fatty meat you will avoid these harmful hormones. For lean pieces of meat like chicken breast, turkey breast and lean ground beef it is less important to buy organic.

Meat and vegetables for anti-inflammatory diet.
Meat grows? Yes, yes it does.

There you have it. If you are aching and sore, if inflammation and pain is your problem, eat less of the foods that make more of it. Inflammation has a global response on the body. It doesn't travel just to your knee to work on your knee tendon. It flushes your entire blood stream no matter what injury (or food) triggers it's release. Think back to when you had the flu last and how your whole body hurt. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Inflammation was killing all of those virus infected cells, and that hurt!

Have questions? Shoot me an email at If I can help I will, if I cannot I will direct you to someone who can.

Here is a link to Megan Lyon's website where you can learn more about everything there is to know nutrition.



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