By Christine McIntosh
PhD, Registered Dietitian
Nearly 8 million people in Canada live with chronic pain.[i] This raises the need for lifestyle strategies to help mange regular daily activities while living with pain.
Pain is impacted by a person’s biology, health, mood, stress, environment, and social influences. [ii] If we think of it as more than a medical condition, a person has more management across many areas of life. This all-encompassing way to manage pain is where food and nutrition come in.
Clinical studies and medical practice have increasingly focussed on the role of body inflammation as a precursor and maintainer of chronic conditions. As there are dietary factors that impact inflammation, it is important to know how food and nutrition patterns can reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is related to the rise of free radicals in the body systems. Free radicals can cause chemical chain reactions in the body and cellular damage. This is referred to as oxidative stress. A diet high in antioxidants found in food reduces the oxidative stress that harm body organs and function that promotes pain.
There have been ways of eating that cultures around the world have shown to be healthy by lower incidence of lifestyle diseases and longer life spans.
You may have heard of diets like these such as the Blue Zone diets or the Mediterranean diet that have shown to increase longevity by reducing chronic disease. Specifically for anti-inflammation, the eating styles that have been shown by research to be very helpful and easily found on the internet are the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and Dr. Weil’s Anti-inflammatory diet.
These diets have similarities and differences. The differences are because of the human’s body ability to adjust to the foods it is fed available in the region. For example, the DASH diet emphasizes low salt foods, regular intake of lower fat dairy foods, and increase in fruits and vegetables. This is designed for the people of the Western world who eat high salt, processed, and fast food and not enough fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet is based on age-old tried-and-true food intake of local foods available to them in that region of the world. It features fish, high intake of fruit and vegetable, use of olive oil rather than animal fats in cooking, and lower intake of animal meat for protein. The Anti-inflammatory diet features research of the people of Asian regions of the world, where high intake of mushrooms, spices, fish, and vegetables, is a food style that assists with longer healthy lives.
You can likely see some of the similarities of the diets in the short lists above. There is a definite lack of processed and sugary foods. High salt, sugar, and additives are harmful to body systems and lead to an increase of free radicals. It may not surprise you that fruits and vegetables are key to healthy diets. This is because they are a main source of antioxidants and a key factor to reduce inflammation and pain.
Pain management is teamwork. Professionals at NeuPath help in your pain management plan by providing medical and clinical advice and treatment. You as the star team player, can make lifestyle choices in food and nutrition as an important part of your plan.
[i] Canadian. Task Force Report: March 2021. Government of Canada . 210048. Accessed July 9, 2022. report-rapport-2021-eng.pdf (canada.ca)
[ii] Brain K, Burrows TL, Bruggink L, Malfliet A, Hayes C. Hodson FJ, Collins CE. diet and chronic non-cancer pain: the state of the art and future directions. J Clin Med, 2021;10(21) 5203.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10215203
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