Whether you’re dealing with chronic joint pain due to degenerative disease or recovering from orthopedic surgery, you want to do everything you can to keep the pain and discomfort to a minimum.
While board-certified orthopedic surgeon Marc Pietropaoli, MD, and the team here at Victory Sports Medicine & Orthopedics can certainly do our part to relieve your pain, there are steps you can take on your own, including paying close attention to nutrition.
Here, we explore how your diet can affect your body’s ability to combat pain and what you should and should not eat.
Behind the pain
While pain can stem from direct trauma to your nerves, it also stems from inflammation, which is your body’s natural response to damage. The inflammatory response in your body is designed to isolate the problem, be it bacteria or trauma, to contain the damage.
The inflammation is created when your immune system releases chemicals that prompt your blood vessels to fill the area with fluid. This inflammatory response is temporary and allows time for your body to heal.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with pain much longer than they should because of low-grade and persistent inflammation, which can very much be influenced by what you eat.
Nutrition and inflammation
To keep your inflammatory response functioning optimally, which means that it only lasts long enough for your body to heal, it’s important to support healthy immune function through nutrition.
For starters, we recommend that you avoid foods that promote chronic inflammation, such as:
- Sugar or high-fructose corn syrup
- Red meat and processed meats, such as bacon
- Vegetable oils
- Refined carbs
There’s some evidence that your body may respond to these unhealthy foods in the same way that it greets bacteria — it initiates an immune response, which creates inflammation.
On the flip side, there are foods that you should add to your diet that promote a healthy immune system and combat inflammation. For example, The Arthritis Foundation highly recommends the Mediterranean diet, which puts the focus on:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Beans and lentils
- Olive oil
As you can see, there are no processed foods on this list, but rather simple foods that are chock full of antioxidants that support your immune system. These foods support immune health and reduce inflammation, but they’re also great for every other area of your health, including your cardiovascular system.
When you head into your local grocery store, a great way to think about eating is to avoid all the middle aisles, which are usually full of processed foods. Instead, stick to the outside aisles, which feature the produce and fish sections.
If you’d like to learn more about nutrition's role in combating pain, please call our office in Skaneateles, New York, at 315-303-8352, or book an appointment with us online.