Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest blogger: Eat to Beat Inflammation and Pain

Today we have a guest blogger, Katie Brind’Amour, on the topic of anti-inflammatory foods.

Eat to Beat Inflammation and Pain
Let’s be honest – swollen joints and aching muscles just plain suck. Modern medicine has a host of helpful treatments for these ailments, but so does Mother Nature. Try chowing down on some of the foods below to reduce inflammation and ease joint and muscle pain, particularly if you suffer from lupus.
Fab Foods to the Rescue
Eat your vegetables and whole grains. Vegetables and whole grains (like brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, and other grains) can offer a host of antioxidants and nutrients that can help your body fight fatigue and inflammation. In addition, the Vitamin E that naturally occurs in some veggies (like tomatoes, spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes) may help reduce pain, protect your eyes, and heal weak or damaged skin.
Add some (healthy) fat to your meals. Omega-3 fatty acids are widely touted for their ability to cure just about everyone of everything. What you should care about, though, is that omega-3 fatty acids – like the ones found in fish, olive oil, nuts, and avocados – help reduce morning stiffness, joint pain, and functional limitations in individuals with inflammation caused by an autoimmune disorder.
Snack on nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are a powerhouse combination of healthy fats, essential nutrients, and powerful antioxidants that will help fight tissue damage, boost energy, and even reduce swelling or pain. Incorporate a small handful of walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or your favorite nut butter into your daily routine for the most benefit.
Don’t forget your dairy. The calcium in milk, cheese, yogurts, and green leafy vegetables (yes, I know they aren’t dairy) can help promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis, which is good news if you suffer from joint pain, bone deterioration, or skeletal weakness. {note: many people with lupus, including me, fare better on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet- Carla}
Bring some citrus into your diet. Early research in animals shows that citrus peels and extracts may significantly reduce swelling and pain (perhaps even better than morphine, which is saying something!). Even if this doesn’t have equally significant effects in humans, it can’t hurt to get some extra vitamin C and antioxidants in the diet.
Watch sodium intake. If you suffer from inflammation or swollen joints because of retained water, sodium may be your enemy. Try cutting back on processed foods like lunch meats, frozen dinners, and canned soups while simultaneously drinking more water – the combination should ease pain and swelling if sodium was aggravating your symptoms.
Make Anti-Inflammatory Foods Part of Your Routine
Try keeping a list of these foods near your refrigerator or in your wallet to remind you about the easy ways to incorporate natural pain management and anti-inflammatory treatment into your diet. After all, everybody eats (I hope), and simply making some trades or tweaks ought to start relieving some pain and inflammation in a few days to weeks.
If you are even more eager to put your new dietary savvy to the test, try keeping a food diary to track what you eat and the type and severity of symptoms you experience. Then discuss the journal with a physician or dietitian to brainstorm on other potential changes you can make to help get the most out of your food (and potentially avoid some unpleasant symptoms).
If you have chronic pain or inflammation, you owe it to yourself to try a few natural treatments for symptoms of lupus or other auto-immune disorders. You may find that personalizing your diet is the key to making your disease more manageable day to day, improving both your short- and long-term health and functional abilities in the meantime. Eat up!
Katie Brind’Amour is a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health and wellness writer. She enjoys blogging about friendship and life in the not-so-fast lane while chipping away at her PhD in Health Services Management.

Thanks, Katie, for the great post! I always love to hear about natural ways to decrease inflammation and improve health, especially low-cost practical ways, like adding in new foods. There are lots of great suggestions here. I would only advise caution to people with lupus in regards to dairy. In my personal experience, my inflammation would not let up until I eliminated dairy. For me, and many people with autoimmune disorders, it is an aggravating food. Otherwise, I have to agree with the overall approach to using food to reduce inflammation, because using drugs to control it, over the long-term, can lead to other problems, some of them quite serious. Food journaling is a great tool, and I especially like your tip of keeping a list of good anti-inflammatory foods handy, on the fridge and in the wallet. A helpful hint for implementing these tasty healthy ideas. Thanks again!
Carla Ulbrich, The Singing Patient - health coaching- visit this site to get a free e book on nutrition! funny medical songs