Do you struggle from constant nagging pain? Are you taking all the right supplements but nothing is improving? Have you considered that perhaps your diet could be a huge contributing factor to the viscous cycle, that is chronic pain?
It’s true, you could be doing everything right to support yourself via supplementation, but unfortunately you cannot out-supplement your diet. It is really important to ensure you are not perpetuating the cycle and that you make certain changes to your diet to reduce inflammation in the body.
Let’s dive in.
Firstly, it is important to note that inflammation is a natural and normal process of the body. In fact, inflammation is what allows the body to heal from injury, it is a protective response. However, where we run into trouble is when acute inflammation is not resolved, and it becomes chronic; this is the breeding ground for chronic disease.
Lectins and Gluten
Lectins are a group of proteins that bind to sugar and are found in many plant and animal based foods, Lectins are found in the highest concentrations in legumes, grains and nightshade vegetables (tomato, potato, eggplant, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper). Why is it that these proteins are problematic? Well, in short, they can damage the cells that form the gut barrier and also actually open up the junctions between the cells, ultimately creating a permeable lining, contributing to what we know as leaky gut.
This is the same mechanism that we find happening with gluten. Gluten falls into a class of lectins known as prolamins, known to affect the type of bacteria that cultivate in the gastrointestinal tract (they overfeed the negative bacteria strains). But more than that, one of the main proteins found in gluten, gliadin, activates a protein called zonulin which regulates tight junctions of the small intestine. When these proteins are activated, they open these junctions therefore allowing larger particles to pass through the intestinal wall, the immune system responds by triggering an inflammatory response.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential fatty acids, meaning we must obtain them from our diet as the body cannot make it on its own. These fatty acids are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties and role in helping to reduce inflammation by influencing the fatty acid composition of cell membranes. As such, omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to mitigate the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and increase the production of anti-inflammatory molecules.
Additionally, endogenous (within the body) mediators known as specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM) help to reduce and resolve inflammation. SPMs can help to switch off the inflammatory response and downregulate the process, bringing the body back to homeostasis. I mention this because omega-3 fatty acids provide the raw material for SPMs. So, it is really important to ensure one is consuming sufficient amounts of omega-3’s in their diet.
Acidifying and Alkalizing Foods
Acidity creates a state in which disease can thrive. It also creates the terrain for inflammation and is a favourable environment for bacteria and parasites to flourish. Unbeknownst to many of us, we live in a very acidic environment. From processed foods, poor quality food in general, sugar, stress and prescription medications - these all have negative effects on the environment of our bodies. It is important to ensure that between our lifestyles and food consumption, we are bringing our bodies back to optimal pH levels as states of acidosis can contribute and amplify chronic pain.
Turmeric is a spice containing compounds called curcuminoids. One of those compounds is curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumins stems from its ability to block molecules that travel into our cells responsible for activating genes related to inflammation and fights inflammation at the molecular level.
FOODS TO AVOID AND CONSUME:
Lectins and Gluten
High lectin foods you want to avoid because their lectin components are very resistant to
deactivation through food preparation
o Kidney beans
o Broad beans
Gluten Free Products
o When purchasing products, make sure you can pronounce every ingredient and you
know what it is
o One of my favorites for a bread alternative is slice of life by carb wise
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The best-known food source containing omega-3 fatty acids
o Fatty Fish
o Plant sources
* Flax Seeds
* Chia Seeds
Acidic and Alkaline Foods
o Start your day with some warm lemon water in the morning. Not only does it help to
detoxify the body and maintain digestive health, but it helps maintain the pH balance
of the body
Acidifying foods you want to avoid
o Processed Foods
o Artificial Sweeteners
o Dark Leafy Greens
o Alkaline Water
o Sea Vegetables
Ways you can incorporate more turmeric into your diet
o Turmeric Roasted Vegetables
o Boiling Turmeric Root for Tea
Mitigating pain and inflammation is an integrative approach. A big piece of the puzzle is ensuring that our diet is not perpetuating the cycle and that we are consuming healing and nourishing foods yet staying away from those that no longer serve us. From personal experience, I can share with you that changing my diet was a huge factor in relieving the chronic pain I was suffering from for years. Today, we’re so lucky that there are so many alternatives available to us that are geared towards health, so don’t be scared to eliminate foods you think you can’t live without. If it seems too daunting to do it all at once, start slowly with one food or drink and work your way up. And if there is anything that I can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me.