Inflammation is a natural process the body uses to protect itself and to promote healing. During the inflammation process, your body increases its production of white blood cells. Chronic inflammation, however, can damage the body. Living with continual inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected areas. It can also increase your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. There are several ways you can improve your nutrition and decrease pain and inflammation.
There are several ways that good nutrition can decrease pain and inflammation
Foods that can cause Inflammation and should be avoided or limited include the following:
- Red Meat – Healthy, lean protein is a crucial component when creating a diet to reduce pain and inflammation. Protein builds muscle and cartilage. Red meat, especially meats that are processed, can lead to increased inflammation. Chicken is often considered neutral, while many types of fish actually fight pain and inflammation in the body.
- Refined Carbohydrates – Refined carbs include grains that have had most of the fiber and nutrients taken out. Pasta, pastries, white bread, and white flour are all refined carbs that should be eliminated or eaten rarely.
- Soda – Soda can increase levels of uric acid. This often causes an increase in inflammation and even insulin resistance. Drinking water or tea in place of soda will not only help reduce pain and inflammation, but may also help you shed a few pounds.
- Fried Foods – Everything from fried chicken to deep-fried veggies can contribute to inflammation. Eat your veggies raw, steamed, or baked for the most health benefits.
Foods that Can Help Reduce Inflammation
- Olive Oil – Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that tastes great and can help reduce inflammation. Make sure to select olive oil that is extra virgin in order to receive the most health benefits. Olive oil that is real extra virgin should solidify after it is refrigerated.
- Fatty Fish – Wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel are great sources of Omega-3s, which can fight inflammation. They may even limit stiffness in the joints that is sometimes associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Leafy Vegetables – Almost all fruits and vegetables contain what is called phytonutrients that can help fight inflammation.
- Green Tea – Green tea is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. It’s recommended to use water that’s not higher in temperature than 160 degrees since boiling water may destroy many of the antioxidants.
- Berries – Berries have an abundance of antioxidants that can eliminate inflammation. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are all good choices.
The Role of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy, combined with good nutritional habits, can greatly reduce or even eliminate your pain and inflammation. The American Physical Therapy Association states that the connection between pain and nutrition is strong enough that nutritional screening is often recommended. A physical therapist can provide nutritional guidance along with creating an exercise program that targets and reduces the pain and inflammation you’ve been experiencing. A physical therapist may recommend activities such as swimming or simple stretching to increase joint flexibility and range of motion. Good nutrition along with a physical therapy treatment plan can help you manage or even eliminate chronic pain by increasing the strength in certain muscles and improving joint stability. Instead of relying on surgery or pain medication, improved diet and a physical therapy program customized to meet your specific needs can help you live pain-free.