Nutrients and Botanicals to Help Manage Chronic Pain
Source: Mayo Clinic, Practical Pain Management
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Many people do not pay attention to the nutrition in the foods they consume on a regular basis. A normal diet often lacks the required essential minerals and vitamins needed for optimal health. Lack of proper nutrition can affect the immune response, alter mental functioning, create mood swings, increase inflammation levels and decrease energy levels. A major ramification of improper nutrition is increased chronic pain levels.
Nutrients and botanicals that individuals can add to their diet to aid in pain management include the following:
Curcumin is found in the spice turmeric. It benefits the body by reducing inflammation, thereby, decreasing chronic pain.
Bromelain is a combination of enzymes found in pineapples. Adding it to the diet is an effective way to reduce swelling and bruising.
Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that help digestion and contribute to maintaining a balance of healthy bacteria in the intestines. They aid in decreasing inflammation in the digestive tract. A common source of probiotics is yogurt.
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the brain. Its purpose is the regulation of sleep. Research shows that melatonin may also reduce pain associated with health conditions, such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis and migraines. Manufactured melatonin is available in supplement form.
Proteins serve as building blocks in the body. Protein helps with tissue repair, growth and cell renewal. It also aids in building muscle and collagen which are crucial for the maintenance of intervertebral and cartridge disks. Lack of protein may cause weakness in individuals with chronic pain. Numerous foods are good sources of protein, such as green vegetables, meats and nuts.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
The benefits of consuming Omega-3 fatty acids are numerous. The most important benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids for individuals in chronic pain is that it aids the body in responding to inflammation. The most common way to incorporate Omega-3s in the diet include eating fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and trout. Shellfish, certain vegetable oils, and flax seed also contain high levels of Omega-3s. They are also available in supplement form.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D provides many health benefits. It helps the body absorb calcium for optimal bone health. It also supports the immune system and aids the body in responding to inflammation. Individuals can obtain Vitamin D from food sources, such as fatty fish, fish liver oil, and fortified milk. Individuals can also get Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and in supplement form.
Magnesium is a mineral essential to good health. Incorporating magnesium-rich foods, such as milk, brown rice, black beans and certain nuts, into the diet can help ease chronic pain, muscle spasms and cramps, and migraines. Supplement forms available include magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride.
*Note: It is essential to consult a healthcare provider before adding any supplements to the diet.