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Foods that fight pain

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Anti-inflammatory foods heal the body

The meaning of comfort food for the 50 million Americans suffering from chronic pain is food that can ease the daily aching. Charles Friedman, D.O., pain management specialist for Pain Relief Centers in Pinellas Park, Florida, says, "Fill your plate with the following foods that fight pain."

Woman eating oranges and kiwi

Omega-3s ease pain

Though omega-3 fats are good for you, not all fats have the same claim to fame. Omega-3s, found primarily in fatty fish and flaxseed, can help reduce inflammation that causes pain, but saturated fats can exacerbate the problem.

"Fats in foods can have the greatest effects on the inflammatory process," says Dr. Friedman. "If you have soft, brittle nails, stiff joints, or feeling fatigued, these may be warning signs that you are not getting enough omega-3 fats in your diet."

The pain specialist adds that omega-3s, which make up most of the 60 percent fat in your brain, are also known as "calming fats" because they reduce and prevent stress—and we all know that when we're stressed, everything, including pain, is intensified.

Recipes high in healthy fats >>

Limit omega-6s

Not all omega fats are beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation. For example, omega-6 fats found in land animals and processed food are unhealthy when too much are consumed. "And, unfortunately for Americans, the omega-6 fat, although essential, is too predominate in our diets." Dr. Friedman recommends limiting your consumption of omega-6 fats by reducing your intake of packaged convenience foods or beef, pork, chicken, and egg yolks.

Foods that fight joint pain >>

Nix pain with omega-9s

"Omega-9 fats also prohibit inflammation, allowing relief to pain sufferers," says Dr. Friedman. "Omega-9s can be found in olive oil, avocados, pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, sesame oil, pistachio nuts, and macadamia nuts." Leaving a can of these nuts at your desk or in your car can prove to be a beneficial snack as long as the serving size remains at 10 to 12 nuts per serving, as they are a bit high in calories.

Healthy pistachio recipes >>

Amp up antioxidants for fewer aches

Eat your fruits and veggies, simple as that. "The antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits prevent the initiation of the inflammatory response," explains Dr. Friedman. A fun way to approach your fruit and vegetable intake is to aim for eating your colors. The more colorful your plant-based meal, the more pain-relieving antioxidants you will consume.

Expert tips

Dr. Friedman suggests the following antioxidant-rich foods:

  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Kiwi
  • Cranberries
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower

The importance of rich-colored foods >>

Pain free diet tips

Dr. Friedman points out that there is no set diet declared for any person for their individual level of pain, but dietary changes can certainly prove effective in providing relief. He suggests talking to your doctor, setting realistic goals, creating a balanced diet with good nutrition, exercise and plenty of R&R.

Expert tips

Easy dietary changes for pain relief:

  • Switch-up the proteins for fish;
  • cook with olive or canola oil;
  • toss in healthy nuts (10 to 12) in your salad;
  • try avocados in place of cheese for sandwiches;
  • add a side salad with veggies to your dinner; and,
  • add 2 tablespoons of ground flax to yogurt or oatmeal.

Everything in moderation, advises Dr. Friedman. "It's never a good idea to stress-out about grams of this or ounces of that—simply eliminate some of the bad, have moderation, and enjoy your healthy lifestyle in tranquility."

More foods to prevent and treat disease

Functional foods that fight illness
Anti-inflammatory diet: Healing foods
Beat breast cancer with fish, fruit, and veggies

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