Often foods that cause Inflammation that are regarded as ‘pro-inflammatory’ contribute to pain-related conditions and musculoskeletal conditions are often linked to an aggravated by, poor nutrition (1) Food choices have a profound impact on our health. While we associate poor diet with being a causative effect of poor health, at the root of this is Inflammation.
Musculoskeletal conditions including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Gout and Fibromyalgia have some specific dietary strategies. Weight management is often advised as part of a pain management plan. Obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee and hip as excess weight places increased load on the joints of the body. (2)
Diet has been strongly implicated in Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years, both in regard to cause and cure. (3) Diet strategies for pain management include removing foods that are known to promote inflammation. While foods that aggravate will be specific to the individual (2), here are the top 4 culprits to consider eliminating:
A spoonful of sugar does not help the medicine go down! Studies have shown that higher sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with increased risk of developing chronic diseases, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis and to worsen symptoms in some patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. (4) Many sweet foods are also high in refined carbohydrates, contributing to weight gain via empty calories, especially when there are inactivity and the inability to exercise due to injury.
A reduction in the consumption of red meat is worth considering for pain management. A vegetarian diet has been shown to produce significant benefits in treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. (3) Resident Acupuncturist Jasmine Peris agrees with eliminating red meat, since, from a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective, red meat is heating, which promotes inflammation.
Saturated, trans and oxidised fats may contribute to pro-inflammatory pathways (2), the same pathways that promote the pain response. Limit animal fats like red meat, butter and cheese (high in saturated fat), avoid fried and processed foods (which have undergone oxidation, leading to trans saturated fats). These pro-inflammatory fats also tend to be higher in omega 6, which while needed, is in excess in modern-day diets compared to omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory.
Due to diuretic effects on body fluid distribution and volume (2) coffee, as well as black and green tea, can lead to dehydration, making those affected tissues more vulnerable and decreasing the removal of wastes from the tissues.
Food is Medicine
A diet rich in energy intake (excess calories), total and saturated fat, an unbalanced ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, that is high in refined carbohydrates and sugar might increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis directly through increasing inflammation (5). There are several approaches that may be taken to incorporate an anti-inflammatory eating plan for the individual, taking into consideration age, current weight, exercise and lifestyle. Appetite regulation can sometimes need addressing in relation to pain – some sufferers can become comfort eaters as a distraction while others may find the stress of dealing with pain causes a loss of appetite.
Help with Healing
Our team can give you tailored guidance on a pain management plan. This may include remedial massage and/or acupuncture alongside diet change and supportive supplements to reduce inflammation. Pain relief is a top priority and a multi-modality approach can provide you with all of the tools to managing chronic pain, healing from acute injuries and reducing the likelihood of developing musculoskeletal conditions associated with poor nutrition