Happy New Year!! My first post of the year will be about nutrition and the importance of a good diet in dealing with pain and inflammation. But before that, I just want to mention that I have gotten some feedback saying that my post are too long, so from now on I will try to make them shorter. If there is something someone doesn´t understand or wants me to go into greater detail please don´t hesitate to comment or write me an email.
We all know how important a good diet is for our health (althought most of us don´t practice it), but I´m pretty sure that a lot of us don´t know that what we eat can have an influence on pain and inflammation. That´s right, whenever, for example, we twist our ankle or have a tendinitis, what we eat is going to either help us get better sooner or delay our recovery. Also, many of the current diseases develop and exist as consequence of chronic inflammation, such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc. (1-4) Let me explain:
Inflammation is part of the healing process; however, chronic inflammation represents a lack of tissue healing and actually promotes on-going tissue damage (5). The way we are eating is causing dietary imbalances and this, in turn, is leading to inflammation. Some of those dietary imbalances are: excessive omega-6 fatty acid intake, inadequate potassium intake, inadequate magnesium intake, and inadequate phytonutrient. Now, I hope no one is getting the silly idea that all they have to do is take supplementation pills to correct those imbalances, because it´s not that easy. The easiest way to correct it is by eating properly. And what is eating properly? Well, this list might help you:
Pro-inflammatory foods : Refined grains, Whole grains, Grain/ flour products, most packaged foods, most processed foods, deep fried food, trans fats, grain fed meats/eggs.
Anti-inflammatory foods: Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts Fresh Fish, Wild game, Dark Chocolate, Omega-3 eggs, Organic extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, organic butter, red wine (a glass, not a WHOLE BOTTLE), spices: ginger, turmeric, garlic, oregano, potatoes.
Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by insulin resistance (https://sports-diet-pain.com/2013/10/31/sugar-the-hidden-enemy-part-2/), is also an inflammatory disease (7). Monounsaturated fatty acids found in nuts, olive oil and animal product promote insulin sensitivity and have anti-inflammatory properties, which lowers insulin resistance. Another thing that causes inflammation is when we have an imbalance between omega 6 intake and omega 3 intake. Ideally, we should consume an omega 6:omega 3 ratio of 4 :1; however most of us are consuming a ration of 20-30:1. Here is a list of some common foods and what their ratios are (more than one might be surprising):
Food N-6: N -3 Ratio
Grains 20 : 1
Seed and seed oils (corn, sunflower) 70 : 1
Soybean oil 7 : 1
Chicken (white meat) 15 : 1
Chicken (dark meat) 17: 1
Salmon 1 : 1
Potato chips 60 : 1
Fruit 3 : 1
Nuts 5 :1
Wild game 2.5 : 1 (8)
So to summarize, food can have a big impact on pain and inflammation. So next time you hurt yourself and you see that the pain or the inflammation is not going away, try to eat properly. It will probably help with the inflammation and in the long run you will be doing yourself a favour.
- Balkwill F, Mantovani A. Inflammation and cancer back to Virchow? Lancert.2001;357:539-45.
- Ban WA, Man SF, Senthilselvan A, Sinn DD. Association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and systemic inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax 2004;59:574-80.
- Fernandez-Real JM, Ricart W. Insulin resitance and chronic cardiovascular inflammatory syndrome. Endo Rev 2003;24:278-301.
- Ross R. Atherosclerosis-an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med 1999;340:115-26.
- Seaman DR. THe diet-induced proinflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? J Manipulative Physio Ther 2002;25:168-79.
- Liebenson C. Rehabilitation of the Spine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2007. pg 730
- Pickup JC. Inflammation and activated innate immunity in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2004; 27:813-23.
- Ros E. Dietary cis-monounsaturated fatty acids and metabolic control in type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr 2003:78:61
- Liebenson C. Rehabilitation of the Spine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2007. pg 733