An anti-inflammatory diet and reducing pai
AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET AND REDUCING PAIN
The chief fatty acid responsible for inflammation is an omega 6 called arachidonic acid (AA). A diet rich in AA contributes to the cycle of pain and inflammation. Foods that are rich in AA include animal meats, egg yolks, and shellfish. One step in stopping inflammation is reducing dietary intake of these foods.
AA can also be synthesized or produced by our bodies. To reduce the production of AA in our bodies we can increase our intake of “anti-inflammatory fats” such as EPA from fish, and ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) from sources including flax, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and soybeans.
Research has also shown that certain foods and spices can block the enzymes that fuel the process of pain and inflammation. These anti-inflammatory foods and spices include ginger, cayenne, turmeric, garlic & onion, rosemary, and herbs such as Boswellia (an Ayurvedic herb), wintergreen, licorice root, and black willow. Additional nutrients including Vitamin E and Quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory found in foods such as citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, tea, and red wine, also inhibit enzymes that trigger inflammation.
Just as anti-inflammatory foods can have a profound effect on the cycle of pain and inflammation, so does our immune system. Over 70% of our entire immune system is located in the gastrointestinal tract. Reducing inflammation throughout the body therefore requires a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are also commonly associated with arthritis. We can support the health of our gastrointestinal tracts by eating a healthy diet with adequate fibre intake, avoiding unnecessary antibiotics that upset the balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and avoiding foods we may be sensitive or allergic to.
Here is a summary of recommendations
- Eliminate or reduce your intake of red meats, egg yolks, and shellfish to reduce your arachidonic acid levels;
- Supplement your diet with healthy sources of the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and ALA by increasing your intake of:
Fish and fish oils- mackerel, pilchards, sardines, herring, trout and salmon, also Ground flax seeds or flax oil, Pumpkin seeds, Walnuts, Soybeans and Hemp oil.
- Increase your fibre intake from foods such as whole grains, fruits & vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Exercise including aerobic and muscle strengthening.
- Practice mind-body techniques such as Biofeedback, Meditation, Yoga, Hypnosis, Tai Chi and Chi Gong.
- Use helpful physical therapies such as Acupuncture, Neuromuscular therapy, regular massage or Physical therapy.
For those persons with persistent pain despite these measures, consider a trial of a food allergy elimination diet under the supervision of your physician or nutritionist.