The foods you eat play an important role in how you feel. Loading up on junk foods and fast foods tend to make you feel worse due to the unhealthy fats that are used in the cooking processes. Junk foods also usually contain ingredients that can irritate inflammation, and all pain is the result of inflammation. Red meat, eggs, and wheat products also contain something called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for your health, too much in the diet will make your inflammation worse. Junk and processed foods often contain too much sugar, too. Anecdotal evidence suggests the excessive consumption of sugars and refined starchy carbohydrates like white flour also aggravate inflammation.
While whole fruits and vegetables are important for their vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants, vegetables like white potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant may actually make inflammation worse. These vegetables are part of the nightshade family of plants and contain solanine that can trigger inflammation in some people. Nightshade plants should be avoided to see if your pain and inflammation improves. One big factor in pain is dehydration. When you do not drink enough water, you hurt and inflammation feels worse. Make sure and drink at least 60 to 80 ounces of water every day. Avoid heavy intake of caffeine and alcohol because they contain diuretics that may cause your body to lose water.
Change your diet to an anti-inflammatory diet
The common diet high in fat, red meat and processed foods is likely to increase inflammation, while a healthy diet made up of whole foods may actually help to decrease inflammation and pain. Start by avoiding sugars, processed foods, and junk food whenever possible. Choose fresh foods including anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables.
Essential Fatty Acids, Fats, and Oils
Adding anti-inflammatory foods that contain the right type of fats in your diet will impact pain and inflammation in a positive way. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in cold water oily fish (sardines, tuna, and salmon), walnuts, and flax and pumpkin seeds and will help reduce inflammation. Adding Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements with flax oil or fish oil capsules may also help reduce inflammation. Look for Omega-3 supplements that contain 600 to 1000 mg of DHA/EPA.
Olive oil is another type of oil that does not promote inflammation. Olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and will help to reduce pain. Other healthy oils include canola oil, grapeseed oil, and walnut oil.
Protein is needed to build healthy body tissues. Good protein choices include lean poultry, fish and seafood, nuts, legumes (dried beans and peanuts), and seeds. Red meats are protein but may trigger inflammation, so limit fatty red meats. Bison, venison, and other game meats are alternatives to beef. Soybeans, tofu, and soy milk are great sources of soy proteins that may help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Stay away from the starchier carbohydrates like pasta and white bread, and sugar. Look for whole grain bread and pasta. Choose green leafy vegetables, green and brightly colored vegetables and fresh whole fruits. Berries are a great choice, especially blueberries and strawberries which are packed with anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. Apples and red onions are great sources of quercetin, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Green vegetables, whole fruits, and steel cut oats are excellent sources of fiber.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips
Overall, when you are choosing anti-inflammatory foods to reduce pain and inflammation, choose fresh foods instead of processed foods. Here are some tips:
- Breakfast could be steel cut oats served with fresh berries, walnuts, with a cup of soy milk.
- Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables throughout the day instead of cookies and candy.
- Eat more fish and less fatty red meat.
- Stay away from deep-fried foods. Bake or stir fry your meals instead.
- Choose green, orange, and yellow vegetables for your side dishes.
- Drink plenty of water, 100% fresh fruit juice, herbal teas, and green tea.
- Cinnamon and cumin are potent anti-inflammatory spices that can be used to flavor foods.