There is a lot of work being done to show how diet plays a role in our health. What to eat to prevent heart diseases, some cancer, and other health problems are well documented. Much is now known about how to help with chronic pain, however. Many people who suffer from chronic pain may end up relying on dangerous opioids or other drugs to function throughout the day. There is a way, however, to tailor your diet to help with these symptoms and potentially lessen the need for drugs to help alleviate pain.
The biggest component of a pain diet is protein. Moderate protein intake combined with avoiding carbohydrates like starches and sugars is vital for living with less pain. Protein can help promote strength, energy, and even mental function, while starches and sugars can cause elevated blood sugars, weight increase and hypoglycemia. Both of these problems can lead to inflammation and pain.
Why Is Protein So Important?
There are a few reasons why protein might be so important in diets to help prevent pain. For one, many endogenous pain relievers are protein derivatives already. When proteins enter the intestine, they break down into their various amino acids. These amino acids then travel to different parts of the body, including your organs. These amino acids happen to be some of the building blocks for pain relief. They include endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. Many people experiencing chronic pain also complain of weakness. This weakness can often be attributed to a lack of protein in the diet.
Protein can also help build muscle by enforcing the collagen that helps develop muscle cartilage. It can also activate your body’s glucagon. Glucagon helps boost your body’s blood glucose levels and prevents glucose from being stored as fat. If you eat protein at the same time as eating sugars and starches, then it can prevent your insulin levels from spiking and keep your blood levels stable. Protein will also decrease inflammation, which is a major cause of pain in almost every situation.
A pain-free diet has a few basic principles. It should be comprised of whole natural nutrient dense foods higher in good fats, moderate in protein and low in carbs. As discussed already, it is important to have adequate protein in the diet. Sugar-free drinks and salt should be eliminated, because they increase edema and inflammation. Edema around pain sites can make pain much worse.
When patients have pain that they cannot control, almost always they have high cholesterol, glucose, and lipids. This is because when there is pain, the adrenal gland will secrete extra cortisol to try to prevent it. This means that to help control pain, you should limit glucose and serum lipid levels. Again, whole natural nutrient dense foods higher in good fats, moderate in protein and low in carbs will help with this.
Excess weight can aggravate pain symptoms, especially in the joints, the spine, and the feet. Weight can be the cause of the pain, in fact. It may not always play a factor, however, such as with patients who have fibromyalgia or neuropathic pain. A low carb diet to help lose weight may be the best option here, as long as you are still getting your protein. One issue with weight loss to alleviate pain are that it might be difficult to exercise because of the pain.
Supplements can be an acceptable method to help enhance those dietary needs for pain management. For instance, a combination of vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium can help strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis. You can also take regular B12 supplements and protein supplements as well. Curcumin, ginger root, Boswellia are all excellent natural anti-inflammatory herbs that can be utilized. Check with your doctor first.
Pain can seriously detract from a person’s quality of life. Try a diet that is rich in nutrients and that limits starches and sugars. A good pain diet could be the boost you need to manage your pain successfully.