On the Internet and around the water cooler, you’re likely to hear stories claiming that eating a certain food or eliminating one kind of food from your diet can change your quality of life. Except in rare cases of food allergy or intolerance, there’s no concrete evidence that a simple change in diet can, say, banish chronic pain for good.
Researchers have found, however, that eating particular foods can help ease pain and that in some people, certain foods may exacerbate it.
Clearly, a balanced and healthy diet full of lots of fruits and vegetables and light on animal fat (and trans fat) can help anyone live a longer, healthier life.
But if you’re struggling with persistent pain, you might just be able to take your discomfort down a notch or two by experimenting with your diet.
Foods that fight pain
When it comes to fighting pain, some of the first things doctors suggest are foods to combat swelling and inflammation. Arthritis, by definition, is inflammation in one or more joints. With that in mind, the following foods, in particular, have been shown to help combat inflammation:
In addition to containing powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants, tart cherries contain cyanidin, a compound that’s been found to be better at reducing inflammation than aspirin. According to a report in the Clinical Journal of Pain, anecdotal evidence shows that eating tart cherries may relieve the pain of gout and arthritis.
These fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to reduce not only cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, but also inflammation.
Numerous studies have shown that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids is particularly effective at lessening pain among people with rheumatoid arthritis and enabling them to decrease their use of non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs like ibuprofen).
Experts at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, however, warn against taking omega-3 fatty acids in the form of