Making healthier eating choices can make a serious difference in your everyday life.
The phrase “you are what you eat” is absolutely true. Believe it or not, the foods we eat and diet can make a tremendous impact—both positive and negative—on the chronic pain we may be feeling. Take a moment and try to remember what you ate yesterday.
Was it processed, or full of fats? Maybe it was loaded down with sugar. Whatever the case might be, have you ever wondered if your dietary choices are affecting the way you feel daily? It could be that what you’re eating is causing your achiness and stiffness, and making your daily activities more difficult?
At our physical therapy clinic, we’ve seen that our patients who improve their diets do much better with their individualized plan of care and rehabilitation, and experience an overall higher quality of life than those who do not. We understand that making better choices when it comes to your diet isn’t always the easiest to do alone. By scheduling an appointment with one of our physical therapists, you can learn how to enhance your healing and improve your pain through better nutrition choices!
What good nutrition can do for your body
Harvard Health’s site states “A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that your diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation,” (Dr. Fred Tabung, researcher with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)
Research shows that what you’re putting into your grocery cart can have as much of an impact on your pain as your medications can. Here are a few key ways that certain foods can improve (or worsen) the pain you may be feeling daily:
Not drinking enough water can worsen your pain.
When you work with a physical therapist, there is a high chance that he or she will ask you if you’re drinking enough water. This is because staying hydrated helps make everything in your body run more smoothly! Adequate hydration can also help you manage your pain because your joints will be more lubricated and your tissues will be more pliable. Keep a water bottle and aim to drink about half your body weight in fluid ounces per day (your urine should be clear and regular).
Stay away from foods that increase inflammation.
Have you ever noticed that you tend to feel awful after a huge “treat meal” of ice cream and pizza? This isn’t a coincidence. Our bodies become chronically inflamed by a variety of things, including stress, environmental toxins, inactivity, and of course, eating certain foods. Eating foods that contain inflammatory substances (gluten, sugar, dairy, processed meats, and trans fats) can make your pain last longer and feel even worse.
Chronic inflammation is a widespread dysfunctional immune system response as well as a major key factor behind chronic pain conditions such as arthritis (not to mention other health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease).
Over-eating or under-eating:
It’s important to make sure that you are eating the right amount of high-quality and nutritious foods so that you have enough energy to support regular exercise. This is especially critical for people dealing with chronic pain, because exercise is one of the most effective natural pain and stress relievers, as well as a mood booster.
Having enough energy to participate in regular exercise will help you maintain strong muscles and limber joints. Additionally, refraining from excess calorie intake can help you stay lean or lose excess body fat. This is important because being overweight or obese is a known risk factor for chronic pain, as it adds extra weight to the joints.
Eat more foods that reduce inflammation.
Many foods have been shown to reduce inflammation and can help ease discomfort, stiffness, and achiness. The best anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate into your diet include high-quality fish such as salmon, eggs, leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These whole foods can give you the right amounts of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body craves for optimal tissue health, immune function, and less inflammation.
Contact our clinic to get started on your health journey!
At our physical therapy clinic, our experienced and skilled staff of movement specialists have advanced training in human movement and overall wellness. In addition to creating a completely ustomized treatment plan to reduce your pain and improve your well-being, your physical therapist can also offer guidance on lifestyle and dietary choices that will enhance your rehabilitation.
Call us today to get your safe, natural, and healthy healing journey started!