Can Your Diet Affect the Way You Feel Pain?
It is no secret that the foods we eat directly affect our health. As we are almost three weeks into the new year, we can look back at some of the resolutions that we have made. One of the most common resolutions that people make is changing the way that they eat. Sometimes we do this because we wish to lose weight, other times we simply just want to become healthier. Either way, there are times in which we are enticed by fad diets. Fad diets are those in which are popular for a short period of time and often promote a certain gimmick, with one example being the promise of losing weight very quickly. Examples include celery juicing, which is what it sounds like, or the atkins diet, which promotes a low carbohydrate way of eating. Why fad diets are popular is understandable, as most of us want the best possible results in the shortest amount of time.
Generally, the main complaints with fad diets are that they are difficult to follow for long periods of time, that the weight you do lose may easily be gained again, or that they are simply not healthy and do not include all the essential nutrients we need. Therefore, it may not be wise to follow them. Rather than that, knowing simply the correct foods as well as creating proper health habits may be good enough. Some foods are better for certain situations. The example that we will write about is what foods to eat to minimize inflammation. While medications are often prescribed to prevent inflammation, it is also possible to reduce it by adjusting your diet. By eating certain foods, while avoiding others, you can potentially strengthen your body’s immune system.
Carbohydrates are important for the body, as they provide energy which the body needs to function. They are also important for your digestive system, as they feed the bacteria which live inside of it. The human digestive system contains many beneficial bacteria, collectively called “gut fauna,” which are not only vital to the process of digestion (they break down food our stomachs cannot), but also help bolster our immune system by outcompeting harmful bacteria. Thus, in order to prevent inflammation, you have to not only feed yourself, but the bacteria inside of your gut. The best way to consume carbohydrates is through whole grain, nuts, and legumes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also an excellent source of carbohydrates, as they also provide vital nutrients which are not found in normal grains. Fruits and leafy greens, in particular, contain antioxidants and polyphenols, substances which help prevent inflammation.
Proteins perform many functions within your body, though they are especially important for the maintenance of muscle tissue. The best sources of protein for your diet are those found in seafood. Seafood, particularly from cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), will not only provide protein for your diet, but are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances metabolize into compounds vital for various bodily functions, such as blood clotting and the contraction of blood vessels. While cold water seafood is the best protein source for reducing inflammation, other light meats, such as poultry, are also acceptable substitutes.
Lipids, commonly known as fats, help the body store energy and produce certain hormones. While the human body does not need as much fat as it does carbohydrates and proteins, it still needs a regular source of fat. It is best for one to consume unsaturated fats. There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. The best sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, peanut oil, and most nuts. Polyunsaturated fats, including the healthy omega-3 fatty acid, can be sourced from cold water fish, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. Sources of fat which should be avoided include margarine, shortening, lard, and any fried food. Such foods often contain saturated fats and trans-fats, which contribute significantly to the development of heart diseases and often cause excess inflammation.
By following this dietary advice, once can potentially reduce or even prevent excess inflammation in their body, reducing the chronic pain which they feel as a result. In addition to eating right, exercise is also important. Therefore, rather than following fad diets, consuming the correct foods that are best for the results that you want may be the way to go. You should also make sure to continue to commit to eating healthy for longer periods of time.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods That Fight Inflammation - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.
“Fighting Inflammation with Food.” UW News, www.washington.edu/wholeu/2016/09/28/fighting-inflammation-with-food/.
“Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” Obesity Prevention Source, 4 June 2018, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/.
Harvard Health Publishing. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-between - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.