Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition. It can consume a person, leaving him or her incapacitated and unable to perform basic daily tasks. Prescriptions for pain medication have climbed 300 percent in the past decade. This has led to increased deaths: 46 people per day, or almost 17,000 people per year – that’s up more than 400 percent since 1999, according to Consumer Reports. There alternative remedies, one of which includes natural foods. In general, eating diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help with pain relief, Lara Felton, a leading RDN and head of the dietary team at mobile nutrition app ShopWell, says.
Spinach: “You’ll find these powerhouse phytonutrients in leafy greens like spinach,” Felton says. Spinach is also rich in vitamin K and dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Spinach is also the kind of leafy green that alleviates pain from stomach ulcers. The fibre can help the ulcer heal faster and stop the formation of additional ulcers, the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, says.
Swiss chard: Swiss chard is also full of phytonutrients, Felton says. The vegetable is especially helpful in fighting menstrual cramps and migraines, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Chards are rich in soluble fibre, which is important in preventing stomach pain, belly bloat and intestinal fermentations.
Kale: Researchers have identified over 45 different flavonoids in kale, according to Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE registered dietitian and author of Naturally Nourished: Food-as-Medicine Solutions for Optimal Health Cookbook. Kaempferol and quercetin top the list. “These flavonoids combine both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits in a way that gives kale a leading dietary role as a superfood,” Miller says. “Kale can provide great benefits in combating chronic inflammation and oxidative stress while supporting reduced histamine expression during allergy season.”
Tart Cherry: The Arthritis Foundation cites several studies that have shown that people who drank tart cherry juice experienced a significant improvement in pain and stiffness. Tart cherry juice (unsweetened), which is high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants, has also been shown to decrease muscle soreness if you drink it during or after a workout, Felton says.
Milk and chocolate: Muscle soreness, which can be pretty painful, often results from waiting too long after a workout to refuel. Aim to do that within 30 minutes with a mix of carbohydrates and protein like chocolate milk, Felton says. A study shows that it may be the best post-exercise drink. It has twice as many carbs and protein as regular milk, which is exactly what you need for muscle recovery after training. The water in the milk replaces the fluids you lost while sweating and that keep you hydrated. Headaches are just one of the many consequences of dehydration.
Bananas: Bananas help against muscle cramps, Felton says. They also keep PMS away. Bananas will keep your sugar levels even. (Sugar cravings can be a major headaches trigger). The fruit will also improve your magnesium intake, which also plays a crucial role in preventing muscle cramps and pain. People who don’t get enough are more prone to inflammation, which has been linked to heart problems, diabetes, and even some types of cancers, according to the National Institutes of Health.
To be continued…