Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help Relieve Pain?

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

December 15, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Katlyn Cusack, MS, RDN, LDN

Are you someone who suffers from chronic pain? Do you feel like you have exhausted all options for help? Your diet may actually be a contributing factor. Let's take a closer look at what our experts have to say about this.

“One of the best ways to reduce pain lies not in your medicine cabinet, but in your refrigerator. By following an anti-inflammatory diet, you can help fight off inflammation in your body and reduce chronic pain,” says Katlyn Cusack MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian at Hackensack Meridian Health. 

What is an anti- inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on staying away from specific foods that are known to increase inflammation, which can overall decrease pain and inflammation over a period of time. It usually incorporates fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and foods with omega 3 fatty acids. 

What factors contribute to chronic inflammation?

  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Lack of sleep
  • Exposure to toxins (secondhand smoke, pollution)
  • DIET

What foods should you avoid?

  • Fried food
  • Soda
  • Red meat
  • Carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta
  • Processed foods
  • Foods with added sugars
  • Unhealthy oils
  • Dairy
  • Excess alcohol

What foods should you eat?

  • Fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, apples
  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli
  • Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, pecans, flaxseeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • Olive and avocado oil
  • Dark chocolate 

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Infographic

How do you know if you have chronic inflammation?

Physicians often test for chronic inflammation by testing for C-reactive protein levels (CRP), which increase when the body is in an inflammatory state.

What are some benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet?

Chronic inflammation is linked to cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, GERD and even depression. When chronic inflammation becomes a serious problem, it stops your body from working as well as it could, and it may also contribute to other problems down the line.

“You don't have to suddenly switch to a new eating style, starting small, focusing on one behavior and food change at a time will make this diet become part of your lifestyle,” says Katlyn Cusack.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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