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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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."
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