Over and over again, we hear about the importance of a good diet, but does what you eat affect your pain level? The simple answer is “yes.” The more complex answer involves understanding that there is a relationship between nutrition and pain, analyzing the mechanisms by which food triggers pain in the body, and identifying those foods that either exacerbate or relieve pain.
This important topic was addressed recently at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Management, now the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM). In his address, Robert Bonakdar, MD, past president of AIPM and member of its board of directors, stated, “Diet can influence inflammation, shift the microbiome, modulate the immune system, improve joint function, eliminate pain triggers, and reduce deficiencies.” Dr. Bonakdar further explained that a poor diet increases C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, a known indicator of inflammation.
Dr. Bonakdar made several other points related to the impact of food on pain:
- Excess grains can be inflammatory, especially in individuals who have celiac disease.
- Magnesium deficiency, which affects about 70% of the population, has a strong association with migraines.
- Vitamin D deficiency, present in 70-80% of pain patients, makes nerves “hypersensitive.”
- A good diet, especially when combined with regular exercise, can significantly reduce pain.
Many medical experts suggest that patients with chronic, severe pain follow a diet that is high in “good” proteins—healthy meats, cottage cheese, eggs, fruits, and green vegetables. These high protein foods supply amino acids that produce pain-controlling substances such as endorphin, dopamine, and serotonin. Also, these patients should avoid eating carbohydrates without simultaneously eating protein to avoid a rapid rise in insulin followed by a drop in blood glucose (hypoglycemia), which appears to increase pain.
To date, there are no official dietary recommendations to manage pain, in contrast to dietary recommendations for other medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, and renal failure. But, clearly, the American diet is heavy in processed foods, making up about 60% of what we consume, and is lacking in fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables. The AIPM is planning to issue targeted dietary recommendations before or at its next annual meeting in 2017.
If you are a chronic pain sufferer, Sarasota Interventional Radiology (SIR) offers revolutionary, nonpharmacological treatments for pain reduction associated with herniated discs, pinched nerves, axial disc pain, and spinal fractures. Gerald Grubbs, MD, founder and leading interventional radiologist a SIR, can consult with you about appropriate options to reduce your specific type of pain. For more information on our pain management procedures, click here or call 941-378-3231.
SIR’s partner practice, RevitaLife Sarasota, promotes wellness through innovative nutrition therapies. We offer advanced micronutrient testing to detect any deficiencies that may interfere with your ability to achieve optimal health. A simple but comprehensive blood test can determine if you have proper levels of vitamins (e.g., Vitamin D), minerals (e.g., magnesium), antioxidants, amino acids, micronutrients, and metabolites. Dr. Grubbs can then help you develop a plan tailored to address your specific deficiencies. Click here to visit RevitaLife’s website or call 941-377-4555.