Foods to Fight Pain Part One: Eat the Rainbow and Beyond

Posted On Jul 3, 2013 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Fruits and Grain

Does the chronic pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, or another debilitating condition keep you from enjoying life to the fullest or prevent you from exercising and being active? Put down the potato chips, cookies, and even those 100 calorie snack packs or granola bars coated in sugar. The key is to dampen the fire of inflammation fueling the pain from the inside out with whole unprocessed food.

The right foods have the power to fight inflammation and decrease pain, but the entire diet must consist mostly of whole foods in order for pain to subside. In other words, you can't eat a blueberry crumble muffin-even if it's low fat-and vanilla latte for breakfast, then have a grilled chicken salad for lunch and expect pain levels to diminish. Many different foods affect inflammation including too much sugar, unhealthy saturated and trans fats, and other chemicals in processed foods. For some people, wheat and dairy foods cause inflammation, but this occurs on an individual basis. On the other hand fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats, and spices and herbs have the power to decrease inflammation levels, and therefore, decrease pain. Inflammation is a complex process, but by simply changing the food passing your lips, you have the ability to drastically improve your quality of life and live with less pain!

All fruits and vegetables have something called anti-oxidants as well as other phytonutrients. Each color represents a different set of these phytonutrient compounds, which act as extinguishers to the damage happening inside your body from a health condition, physical or mental stress, or exposure to environmental toxins. What does this mean? Eat 2-3 fruits per day and 4 cups of vegetables, or more simply, eat a fruit and vegetable at every meal. Don't overlook white fruits and vegetables; onions, garlic, cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms, and bananas may lack color but they don't lack pain-fighting capabilities. Onions and garlic, as well as apples, contain quercetin, which acts as a power antioxidant. An apple, or onion, a day can keep the pain away!

In part two, healthy and unhealthy fats to help fight pain will be covered.

Resources for more information on inflammation and anti-inflammatory recipes: