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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton

Can loss in body weight make you cope with chronic pain more effectively?

The first deepest human fear is unknown suffering, or experiencing ongoing pain without understanding why. Most of you who are suffering from chronic pain always find it difficult to get to the root cause of your pain and that’s when you start doubting if it’s due to your excess weight. The extra weight not only adds to your obesity blues but also puts more weight on your bones and joints resulting in chronic pain.

Weight gain: Triggers inflammation and chronic pain!

When you don’t maintain a regular and healthy diet, you invite fat cells to accumulate, and that increases inflammation. When you are inactive and your diet lacks anti-inflammatory foods, the amount of fat cells in tissues raises the inflammation rate and you gradually start gaining weight. If this goes on for a longer than expected time frame then there is a high chance you might fall victim to obesity. Once you become obese, you are carrying so much weight and your activity levels become so limited you are no longer able to perform physical work, the body starts developing some common symptoms of pain. This particular pain, when left untreated or undiagnosed, has the prolonged effect of turning into something most of us are struggling with these days, which is chronic pain. As it grows further you find your daily routine so demanding that your body becomes tiresome, you overlook hope and confidence to perform exercises to lose some weight. Then there’s another alternative for treatment that seems easy to go because you do not need to do a thing, which is opting for prescribed medications for relieving the pain. Initially, you may feel good about it but the real harm appears when you become reliant on them for a long time; an opioid, sedative, muscle relaxant, or antidepressant, actually suppresses the body’s metabolism and causes weight gain. So, it circles back to the point where it all began, and that is food and what you eat to manage your pain. The diet recommended here does not eliminate carbohydrates but limits them in some exceptions by emphasizing protein intake in an attempt to adhere to a weight control program. The majority of chronic pain patients are woefully deficient in protein intake. Protein contains the amino acids that are critical for many pain control functions, including the maintenance of muscles and cartilage. Other components of a chronic pain diet ideally should help to reduce inflammation, control weight, and regenerate nerve cells.

So, maintaining a regular and healthy diet can reduce both fat cells and the inflammation from them which can reduce the amount of pain. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can also help tackle obesity, and make movement and exercise less painful.


Foods that fight inflammation

Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to reduce inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator. By following an anti-inflammatory diet you can fight off inflammation for good.

What does an anti-inflammatory diet do? Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That's when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us — including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's — have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects. Choose the right anti-inflammatory foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process and increase your pain.

Foods that cause inflammation

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:

·         refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries

·         French fries and other fried foods

·         soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages

·         red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)

·         margarine, shortening, and lard

Science has proven that chronic, low-grade inflammation can turn into a silent killer that contributes to cardiovas­cular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.  


The health risks of inflammatory foods

Not surprisingly, the same foods on an inflammation diet are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats.

Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain and obesity which is itself a risk factor for inflammation and chronic pain

Anti-inflammatory foods

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:

·         tomatoes

·         olive oil

·         green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards

·         nuts like almonds and walnuts

·         fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines

·         fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges 

Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods

On the flip side are beverages and foods that reduce inflammation, and with it, chronic disease and pain. In particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols — protective compounds found in plants.

Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well.

Anti-inflammatory diet

To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you're looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health. A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases and pain but also for improving mood and overall quality of life.

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