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What kind of diet can relieve chronic pain?

You have probably heard the saying; you are what you eat. Well, this is true for many examples of how health and wellbeing is related to diet. I want to share with you why this is the case and my favorite tips on what you should be eating if you want to manage your chronic pain better.

Although inflammation and pain go hand in hand, there are many other diseases that you may not realize that are considered to have inflammation at their core too; atherosclerosis, irritable bowel disease, food sensitivities, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, auto immune disorders and Alzheimer’s just to name a few.

Diet plays a big part in keeping inflammatory markers at bay; basically you need good fats, lots of fibre, a rainbow of vegetables and fruits and to keep processed foods to a bare minimum. What do I mean when I say processed foods you might ask? Think processed meats (such as ham and salami), refined grains (bread and crackers) and sugar-ladened treats.

All this adds up to a healthy gut filled with good bacteria that feed back to your own brain (via an amazing system called the gut-central nervous system axis) to down regulate pain signals.

Below are my top 5 tips for reducing pain and inflammation in your body.

1) Eat primarily vegetables!

All vegetables are good however it best to stick to what is in season. Here are a few of my favorites:

• Dark leafy greens; spinach, beet greens, kale, Tuscan cabbage,
• Bitters; alfalfa sprouts, rocket, zucchini, lettuce
• Colourful vegetables; red cabbage, purple cauliflower, squash
• Lentils and beans; pinto, red kidney, chickpeas, puy lentils and brown lentils.

2) Fats are your friends, but some are better friends than others.

Unsaturated fats consist of omega 3s and omega 6s; getting the right ratio of these is integral for reducing pain associated with inflammation. On average most people get too much omega 6 (these are found in grains and vegetable oil) and not enough Omega 3. These fats are your best friends:

• Sardines
• Hemp seeds/oil
• Walnuts
• Avocado
• Flaxseeds (aka linseeds)
• Chia seeds (must be ground up)

3) Get creative and try to reduce your dependance on wheat (if you have one).

Great alternatives include:
• brown basmati rice
• quinoa
• rye
• buckwheat
• amaranth
• sorghum

4) Reduce dairy

Although dairy is a good source of calcium and protein it is not easy for adult humans to digest. When partially digested milk stagnates in the gut this triggers an immune response that turns on inflammation switches throughout the body resulting in anything from fatigue and hayfever to itchy skin and period pain.

5) All herbs and spices are excellent; I can’t stress this enough.

Use herbs and spices to flavour your meals instead of salt. I use herbal tonics in the clinic to moderate inflammation and relieve pain on a regular basis. I can assure you it’s a lot better for your liver than reaching for the paracetamol and ibuprofen on a regular basis!

This is by no means an exhaustive list; I could go on for days! But if you want to start somewhere then give this a go and see how you feel after a few months. I will be honest, it’s not a magic pill, the changes take time to take effect in your body, but if you suffer from chronic pain I think you will agree, there is no time like the present to make changes that will help you to manage the pain in years to come.

To book an appointment with Dr Shirley O’Dwyer please call 9754 2062, or book online.

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