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Reducing Pain and Inflammation by Your Diet

It’s common to deal with chronic pain or inflammation in daily life. Good news is, it’s avoidable through your diet. While exercise is a crucial part of your physical therapy regimen, proper nutrition can also play an important role. As people always says: “You are what you eat and drink”. Obtaining proper diet can help you recover much quicker from painful or uncomfortable conditions. Exercising regularly, reducing your stress intake, and keeping a strict nutritional diet all work together to help limit and alleviate your pain and inflammation.


Why we experience inflammation:

When an infection, wound, tissue damage happens, the immune response is triggered to deal with it, and it leads to inflammation. Without inflammation, injuries wouldn’t be able to heal; however, if this process goes on for too long, chronic inflammation can occur. This can lead to serious health conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or even some cancers. If you experience persistent pain, it is wise to contact a physical therapist as soon as possible, as it may mean that the inflammation has become chronic.

Traditionally, chronic inflammation has been treated through strict rest and medication. However, a lack of exercise can actually make inflammation worse, as it constricts joints and causes muscles to stiffen. Additionally, medications come with a whole slew of side effects, some of which can be dangerous and/or habit-forming. Luckily, pain and inflammation can be treated in much easier and healthier ways – such as diet.


Beat inflammation with a nutritional diet:

From nutritionists’ reports we can see patients report great success in reduce their pain and symptoms by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. "Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Inflammation is a self-recovering process by your body. A nutritional diet can accelerate the recovery process.

An anti-inflammatory diet should provide a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fat at each meal. Make sure you also meet your body's needs for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. The three basic components of an anti-inflammatory diet are:

1) Lots of fruits and veggies.

Particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage are the best options when sustaining an anti-inflammatory diet. They are packed with phytochemicals (plant-based compounds) that include antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids, all of which help reduce inflammation and protect the tissues from oxidation, which can damage them.

2) Take it easy on grains and dairy.

In order to strengthen your body’s immune response, you’ll want to avoid simple carbs and sugars. Unfortunately, that means no donuts, no pastries, and no white breads. Dairy products should also be limited, so very little cheese or milk with anything. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process. Whole grains, such as barley, oats, brown rice, and wheat are better substitutes.

3) Avoid red meat altogether.

It is best to avoid red meat while participating in an anti-inflammatory diet. If this proves difficult, red meat is okay in small doses. The proteins in red meat require extra work from your kidneys to process, so it will slow down the healing process if you eat a lot of it. One small piece of steak, one time per week, could be a treat during your diet. Luckily, chicken and fish are just fine for an anti-inflammatory diet. Enjoy them with all of those servings of vegetables!


More helpful tips:

Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well. If you stick to the diet listed above, you should see recovery from pain and inflammation symptoms.

In addition to a nutritional diet, you can also help fight inflammation through:

Weight loss: If you have some unwanted weight, getting down to your ideal body weight will help with your pain and inflammation.

Stress management: If you’re feeling mentally stressed, your body can become physically stressed – causing more inflammation and a longer recovery rate. Taking time to relax can actually allow you to heal quicker!

Daily exercise: Exercise will keep the muscles warm, which can alleviate pain or stiffness, and stop the inflammation from becoming worse.

Contact us today if you’d like to speak with a physical therapist about pain management or additional advice on how to reduce inflammation!

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