Nobody wants to live with the inconvenience of excruciating pain while trying to perform routine activities every day. Unfortunately, over 100 million Americans are living with chronic pain in the knees, pelvis, shoulders, back, and other areas of their body. And while it may be tempting to bypass the discomfort with bottles of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, these are just temporary solutions that could potentially leave you with unpleasant side effects. Fortunately, there’s another, more natural, way to manage your chronic pain: change your diet.
The secret to alleviating those inflammatory responses that send your pain on an emotional rollercoaster can be found right in your kitchen. Start filling your refrigerator with a well-balanced blend of anti-inflammatory foods that can block pain signals and reduce your risk of well-known diseases. To help beat the pain, get ready to kiss most red meat, gluten, and processed foods goodbye, and add these seven foods to your grocery list instead.
Tart cherries provide a powerful pain relief that protects the nervous system and safeguards against cancer. Two cups of tart cherry juice every day and you’ll be getting a good dose of vitamin C that can help you combat painful inflammation. You can also use frozen, juiced, canned, or dried cherries to blend up a tart cherry smoothie, or you can just add cherries to your salad.
There’s no need to stock up on bottles of ibuprofen when you have olive oil at your disposal. Studies show that a 50-gram daily dose of olive oil has the same anti-inflammatory properties as 10 percent of the recommended dose of ibuprofen for adults. This Mediterranean, pain-relieving staple is loaded with antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. Just don’t overindulge in olive oil or you’ll be adding on an extra 120 calories per tablespoon to your meal.
Salmon, or Other Fatty, Cold-Water Fish
Salmon’s potent inflammation-fighting ingredients, vitamin D and calcitonin, help reduce pain in the joints and safeguard the body from rheumatoid arthritis. All you need is 3 ounces of this omega-3 fatty acid and you’ll cover nearly 50 percent of your daily dose of recommended vitamin D. To eat a healthy amount of salmon without going overboard on your mercury intake, the FDA recommends eating 2-3 servings of salmon per week.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Reducing your pain may be as easy as taking advantage of more fat-soluble antioxidants such as vitamin E. Good sources of vitamin E include kale, broccoli, and spinach. Loading up on these dark, leafy greens will provide you with a rich source of nutrients that will safeguard the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines, and help you manage breast and neuropathic pain.
Research shows that you can reduce inflammation in just six weeks if you add nuts to your diet. Nuts, especially almonds, provide ache-busting omega-3 fatty acid benefits that can help your body combat the damage caused by inflammation. All you need is one serving a day and you’ll have the antioxidants you need to calm inflammation.
Ginger is known to be one of the best natural anti-inflammatory painkillers around. Ginerols may be the secret behind ginger’s pain-reducing and mobility-enhancing properties that people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience. Add a few tablespoons to your salad or stir-fry and you’ll be on your way to easing that aggravating muscle pain.
If you haven’t heard of turmeric, you’ve probably tasted it in your food. It’s a widely-used spice that’s commonly found in Indian and Asian foods such as curry. The fat- soluble compound found in turmeric, known as curcumin, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that may block inflammatory molecules and act as a powerful match to anti-inflammatory drugs.