Almost everyone will experience at least one of the more common types of chronic pain including back pain, neck pain, and headaches at some point in their life. The typical treatment involves anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or pain medication such as acetaminophen and other stronger versions. Since long-term use of these pharmaceuticals is associated with various side effects, many people are seeking out more natural approaches to reduce inflammation and pain.
Interestingly, diet combined with specific nutritional supplementation can have an equivocal impact on inflammation levels as these medications, and without the side effects. Diet alone, nor supplementation alone work nearly as well as combining the efforts.
Not well appreciated in America is an anti-inflammatory diet. This consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, potatoes in moderation, and healthy meats and proteins such as lean beef, skinless chicken, wild fish, and omega-3 eggs. The best oils consist of olive oil, coconut oil, and butter from properly fed cows. Certain spices such as ginger, turmeric, oregano, garlic, etc… have anti-inflammatory influences in the body. Additionally, moderate amounts of red wine and dark chocolate are also anti-inflammatory. Foods that invite inflammation and thus pain include refined sugar, grains, and oils, as well as fatty meat. Unfortunately these foods seem to make up most of what we eat unless we take action.
Nutritional supplements, when used in addition to the anti-inflammatory diet can be very helpful. These include fish oil, which is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein-digesting enzymes such as bromelain, and concentrated spices such as ginger, turmeric, and white willow bark. As with any supplement, quality, potency, and dosage all play a role in whether or not you will “feel” a pain relieving effect. This is why it is important to consult with your healthcare professional regarding your specific situation and as to which supplements are most likely to help.
In summary, if your goal is to live a pain-free life, you should consider the implications of what you put into your body. Additionally, new research is uncovering that inflammation not only leads to pain, but to higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and alzheimer’s. Natural options are available and are as simple as basic dietary changes along with key supplements to enhance the result.