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Healing Chronic Pain and Inflammation With Plant-Based Foods

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Chronic pain is one of the most widely recognized medical conditions, for the obvious reason that most individuals suffer from some form of…you guessed it…chronic pain. This type of illness differs from other types of pain because it usually negatively affects your daily life, makes it difficult to carry out normal tasks, and can ultimately affect your mental health, Which can lead to severe depression.

While chronic pain can result from many different sources – injury, disease or condition, or unknown sources – one of the frequent and almost universal causes is chronic inflammation.

You must have heard about this term quite often in the health world recently. Inflammation is rapidly turning into a major motivation for many health conditions beyond persistent pain, such as poor gut health, autoimmune diseases, intellectual health problems and, even cancer.

When it comes to chronic pain, inflammation is usually pinned down as the underlying culprit.

The consequences of chronic inflammation with chronic pain can be far-reaching, including a build-up of scar tissue, loss of flexibility, hardening of the arteries (which can lead to atherosclerosis), and even joint degeneration due to arthritis. : includes the acceleration of the fall. All of these factors can create a different type of pain that you would never associate with inflammation.

What can you do to help your body heal and ease the pain?

Try adding plant-based foods to your diet! Recent studies have shown that consuming more plant-based foods can be a major intervention to reduce inflammation levels and help manage chronic pain. Plant-based foods are naturally rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, as well as vitamins, minerals, and essential macronutrients.

understanding what chronic pain is

Chronic pain – also called chronic pain syndrome – refers to pain that leaves the so-called “normal” type of pain, which occurs “after the injury has healed or the disease has progressed”. Chronic pain can sometimes occur for months or even years, without a specific known cause or trigger. If persistent pain lasts for more than three to six months, your doctor will usually classify it as chronic pain. Chronic pain syndrome is very common in the United States and is said to affect “approximately 25 million Americans.”

While pain is different from person to person, chronic pain is commonly experienced as joint pain, muscle aches, and burning pain. In addition, chronic pain is also experienced in less obvious ways, such as severe fatigue and sleep problems, mood problems – depression, anxiety, irritability – and even loss of stamina or flexibility, usually with activity. caused by the lack of chronic pain.


What’s going on in your body?

Different things can happen in your body depending on the cause of chronic pain. With that said, most chronic pain sufferers share some things in common. First, with chronic pain “your body continues to send pain signals to your brain even after the injury has healed,” meaning that the trauma or illness may have healed, but your body still believes it to be pain. is in. Second, most people with chronic pain usually also suffer from some sort of physical inflammation, inflammatory disorder, or chronic inflammatory problem.

Unfortunately, chronic pain can affect any part of your body. Still, some of the more common of the problem, including headache, pain after surgery, pain after trauma, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain, – due to nerve damage – and psychological pain – are unknown pain. are areas. Caused by illness, injury, or nerve damage.

What causes chronic pain?

The causes of chronic pain vary depending on the individual and their particular situation.

Presumably, this is an injury that hasn’t healed properly or a trauma from a surgical procedure. It could also be a haunting pain from an illness that created “miscommunication between the brain and the nervous system” so that your body doesn’t know it’s no longer in pain. This type of “ghost” pain continues to worsen in a cycle as chronic pain changes “the way neurons … behave, making them more susceptible to pain messages.”

Nerve cells are damaged by pain, making the pain worse.

With that said, there are some common conditions that are known causes of chronic pain syndrome, including back pain – “muscle strain, nerve compression, or arthritis of the spine – osteoarthritis -” wearing off of the protective cartilage between the bones” – fibromyalgia – a “Neurological conditions that cause pain and tenderness” for unknown reasons – advanced cancers in the body, and autoimmune diseases, in particular, rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of the joints – and inflammatory bowel disease – “inflammation of the digestive tract. ,

Chronic pain – inflammatory cycle

There may be some conditions that cause chronic pain, yet one of the most common triggers and instigators of pain is physical inflammation.

What is swelling?

You may be familiar with the term as it has become a hot-button term in the health world over the past few decades. While inflammation has gotten a bad rap, it is a necessary and normal physiological response. For example, “when you are injured or become infected, your body signals the immune system to send white blood cells to the affected areas to repair the injury or fight infection.” An inflammatory response is there to keep you safe and healthy.

Unfortunately, sometimes the inflammatory response can get a little worse — when your “immune system is triggered and persists after the ‘crisis’ has passed” — whether it’s due to diet, illness, condition, or injury. This leads to chronic inflammation, which is a condition that can lead to a number of health problems, including “increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease”— With “includes damage [to] healthy cells and organs and [causes] persistent pain in muscles, tissues, and joints.”

Hence the association between chronic pain syndrome and chronic inflammation.

Plant-Based Foods to Fight Chronic Pain

So, chronic inflammation is a major component of chronic pain. How can you combat inflammation?

First, talk to your doctor about this as a possible cause or component of your pain. There are some tests that your doctor may do to check your inflammatory health. You may also have a special course of treatment specifically tailored to your exact situation.

With this said, diet plays a big role in both causing and reducing inflammation.

Per Dr. Fred Tabung – a visiting researcher in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard – in the Harvard Medical School article Can Diet Heal Chronic Pain? “Very chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is strong enough that your diet may contribute to an increase in systemic inflammation … but your diet is also one of the best ways to reduce it.” When it comes to reducing bodily inflammation, you can’t get better than plant-based foods. Most plant-based foods are naturally rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants, polyphenols, and a variety of vitamins and minerals that promote health and protect your body from damage. Dr. Tabung explains that “your diet can help support your immune system by turning it on and off at the appropriate times … [whereas] … a poor diet can alter your immune system, so it Acts abnormally, and may contribute to persistent low-grade inflammation.”

mounting evidence

Dr. Tabung is not the only one promoting this idea of ​​a diet-inflammation relationship. There are many studies that support this theory and, in particular, the theory that a plant-based diet reduces inflammation and helps reduce symptoms of chronic pain syndrome.

In a 2015 study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, “600 participants who followed a vegetarian diet for three weeks significantly reduced C-reactive protein, a key marker for acute and chronic inflammation. ” Another study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2010, “looked at 79 rheumatoid arthritis patients who [performed] a vegetable fast for seven to 10 days,” after which they were divided into two groups: one One who followed a vegetarian diet and another who followed a lacto-vegetarian diet – a diet that includes dairy and eggs. While lacto-vegetarians saw no change in pain, those who followed the vegetarian diet “experienced a significant improvement in tender and swollen joints, pain, duration of morning stiffness, and grip strength.”

Another study, titled Improvement of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain and Function, recently published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine followed a small group of 20 participants in an eight-week dietary intervention with a plant-based diet, mainly focused on plant-based foods to reduce chronic Musculoskeletal pain. While only 14 participants finished the study, the results found that “the dietary intervention resulted in a reduction in pain and an improvement in quality of life.”

Best Chronic Pain-Fighting Plant-Based Foods

Want to start eating for your pain? Before changing your diet, be sure to consult with your doctor! Every human body is different, and your doctor can help you design a new diet to meet your specific physical demands, sensitivities, allergies and needs. After talking to your doctor, you can proceed with a new diet! Switching to a primarily plant-based diet is a great place to start, and yet there are certain plant-based foods that target and reduce pain. Here are some that are especially effective when fighting pain symptoms.

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