Can we eat to relieve our pain?
Actually, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” More and more research is finding a connection between what we eat and how our bodies experience pain.
That’s why I was so thrilled to attend a lecture on how nutrition can help us manage our pain at the IPPS Conference in Chicago last month. The lecture titled “Nutritional Considerations in Treating Patients with Pain,” was delivered by the brilliant Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark.
The nutrition advice that Dr. Maker-Clark gave focused mainly on tackling the body’s inflammatory responses. For many chronic pain patients, inflammation plays a major role in their pain.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to acute injury, and chronic inflammation significantly contributes to persistent pain. At the cellular level, pro-inflammatory cytokines produced at the site of injury increase the sensitivity to pain. (“Cytokines” are proteins that interact with cells of the immune system to regulate the body’s response to disease and infection.)
The good news is that these pro-inflammatory cytokines can be reduced by proper diet. In fact, Dr. Maker-Clark is adamant that proper nutrition must be a part of our treatment for pain and is also an important part of the healing process.
So what sort of diet can help us manage our pain?
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