We all know someone who suffers with chronic pain. It might be you or someone you love, but chronic pain is not an uncommon occurrence. Most people medicate the pain with medication, many because they don’t know that so much of chronic pain can be prevented through diet. I work with many clients who suffer with fibromyalgia, and I have seen absolutely miraculous pain elimination when they eat an anti inflammatory diet. So whether or not you suffer with fibromyalgia, eating an anti inflammatory diet is critical to preventing inflammation from occurring. Don’t wait until you have pain to change your diet. Be proactive about making some of the changes below to make a huge difference in your present health, but in your future health as well.
**If you do have fibromyalgia and want to get rid of chronic pain, try a 30 day trial of avoiding all of the foods below entirely. Track your symptoms daily to assess your progress.
- Grains, especially gluten containing grains. Grains are especially inflammatory inside the body, but gluten is especially challenging on the gut and causes inflammation even in those who do not have an overt “sensitivity.” I have found even clients who do not suffer with auto immune illness find great relief from joint pain and headaches when they cut wheat and other grains out of their diet. Remember, when cutting out wheat, it is important not to reach for “gluten free” products to fill in the gaps. Instead, look for whole food alternatives like spaghetti squash and spiral sliced zucchini. A great product that I have found is black bean spaghetti. Unlike other “gluten free” noodles, they are not made from alternative starches, but are simply made of black beans and water so they are super high in fiber and protein.
- Dairy – Unfortunately, the pasteurization process of dairy destroys most of the nutrient value in milk as well as removes the enzymes that make it more digestible. Most people do not have access to raw milk, so avoiding dairy to prevent inflammation is the best avenue. Some people tolerate dairy well in the gut, but they suffer from chronic knee pain, skin rashes, or acne. Be aware of the different ways that foods can affect the body, and track your own symptoms if you choose to go 30 days without dairy. I rarely promote cutting things out entirely, but for chronic conditions, it is often beneficial. Do a trial on your own body and see what happens. Dairy is one of the foods that manifests in many other ways, so tracking your seemingly unrelated symptoms is important in knowing the effect that it has on you.
*Here is a great article on the pasteurization of milk. Not that you are going to run out and get raw milk, but it is important to be educated on the subject. We buy low heat pasteurized milk at our local health food store. This means that the milk is heated at low temperatures to kill bacteria, but not hot enough to kill the beneficial nutrients. Again though, if you have fibromyalgia or a chronic pain condition, trying 30 days without dairy is the best place to start.
- Sugar and high starch foods. Sugar and starchy foods all break down into sugar in your body, which causes a chain reaction of inflammation that can show up anywhere from knee pain to headaches to brain fog and trouble sleeping. Eating a diet that is 50% vegetables, 35% lean protein, and 15% healthy fat is the best way to avoid inflammation.
- Artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are hidden in almost every processed food, even including the flavoring in some almonds that I recently found at the grocery store. Acesulfame k, aspartame, and sucralose are the 3 most common players. Not only are these substances neurotoxins, but they exacerbate inflammatory conditions, like fibromyalgia and arthritis.
- Nightshade vegetables. This might come as a surprise to some as the list of nightshade vegetables is a list of perfectly healthy foods … BUT, they are extremely inflammatory for some people. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant can also be the culprit in some who suffer with chronic pain conditions (especially those that are auto immune related) due to their lectin, saponin/capsaicin content. When testing out these foods on yourself, make sure you try them separately, several times per day, several days in a row.
- MSG and Nitrites/nitrates – You have heard from me for years to avoid these additives anyway, but it always bears repeating. MSG is a neurotoxin, and nitrates have been found to increase risk of cancer and leukemia in children. They are major culprits in inflammatory conditions as well, and are good to avoid for a myriad of reasons.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Whether you suffer with fibromyalgia, chronic joint pain, or you just want to avoid developing these types of conditions, taking a good look at the list above may be beneficial for you. Sit down for a few minutes and write out what a few weeks of eating might look like for you without containing these foods. A 30 day trial is best as it allows the body to begin to settle down the inflammation and begin to repair itself. You never know how foods are affecting you until you do a trial. Avoiding these foods for 30 days would allow you to eat a really clean, whole food diet anyway, which will benefit you greatly. Prevent inflammation before it starts. Take care of your body.......you only get one!