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You Are What You Eat: How Diet Can Help Chronic Pain Management

For those who suffer from chronic pain, there is a simple way to help manage your symptoms; a change in diet. Incorporating more foods that act as natural anti-inflammatories will help the body purify itself and decrease the amount of inflammation and thus pain. While there are many causes of chronic pain, adopting a healthier diet along with getting regular exercise and properly managing stress, have all shown to help decrease pain without the potentially negative side effects that occur when taking medication.

Generally, a healthier diet is one that is more vegan or Mediterranean based and is strictly followed. Vegetables and natural food sources are nutritionally denser and provide the body with more benefits than foods that have been enriched or modified. For an easy guideline there are three basics to know when attempting to create a diet that will aid in managing chronic pain:

  • Eat the rainbow: Your plate should be full of different colored foods, mainly vegetables. The goal is to consume eight or nine servings of vegetables a day with the option to sub in fruits for a serving or two. Cruciferous vegetables are considered to be the best option, this includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
  • Restrict dairy and grains: Dairy products should be consumed at a minimum and in limited quantities. Grains should only be consumed as whole grains such as oats, quinoa and brown rice. Special attention should be given so as to avoid simple carbohydrates altogether.
  • Avoid red meat: Read meat should be eaten rarely, if ever. It is recommended as a treat, or on a very special occasion but should be limited to only a handful of times a year.  Red meat can be substituted with fish, chicken or a vegetarian option. Fish has natural anti-inflammatory components while chicken is seen as neutral, neither harming nor helping you.

What is important to remember is that these are guidelines, or the foundation of a quality anti-inflammatory diet. Working within these parameters leaves you free to incorporate what you do like and leave out, or lessen the amount of, what you don’t. There is no one specific food that will make or break your goals, rather it is the combination of foods that work together to create the desired anti-inflammatory effect.

See how else diet can help with chronic pain

Understanding a Pain Management Approach for Spine Care

Dr. Michael Port, MD

About the author

Dr. Michael Port, MD Dr. Michael Port, a double-board certified pain management specialist with extensive trauma experience, serves as medical director for DISC Sports & Spine Center, a role he has held since helping to launch the center alongside founder Robert S. Bray, Jr. In his more than 15 years of practice, Dr. Port has treated thousands of world-class athletes, weekend warriors and everyday people. His personalized, highly detailed approach to pain targets very specific nerve roots, establishing a more concise diagnosis and avoiding unnecessary medication. Satisfying a career-long goal of alleviating pain and suffering, Dr. Port’s techniques allow patients to return to their fullest state of health and function. He finds his greatest reward in seeing quality of life restored as a result of his work within DISC’s collaborative, multi-disciplinary environment. Read more articles by Dr. Michael Port, MD.

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