How Certain Healthy Foods Can Relieve Your Aches and Pains
New studies show some healthy foods have the ability to reduce the stings that go ouch in the night…and day
Comfort food has long been heralded as just what the name implies: gratification through nourishment. Yet, there is another synonym for comfort that is of particular interest to us here at Home Cures That Work: relief.
Comfort food makes us feel safe, calm and cared for. It’s a combination of memory, history and brain chemistry. Most of us are soothed by the soft, sweet, smooth, salty and unctuous — the specifics are highly personal.
In fact, this little word that means so much has inspired this month’s issue. But is there any truth in the ability to relieve pain naturally by eating? Glad you asked! Because that’s just what we’re going to find out – right here, right now.
Today, we are going beyond chocolate donuts, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cookies. They are all comfort foods, no doubt, but they have little value on your health outside of a quick boost in serotonin. Sure it makes you feel good, but carbs and starches can pack on the pounds too.
What we are talking about is actual pain relief from certain foods that are not usually associated with comfort. These are healthy food eats that appear to have some proven benefits in knocking out inflammation – even if it’s just through a mood change.
Chewing On The Possibilities – Is Soy A Breakthrough In Pain Management?
Jill Tall, PhD at Youngstown State University in Ohio, says we should not expect a prescription of tofu for pain just yet, but recognizes the potential. “I do believe that as an adjunct to traditional therapies, there are some possibilities,” Dr. Tall said. A couple of the possibilities she is talking about are soy and cherries.
A study conducted with 135 men and women has shown soy has the power to reduce pain from osteoarthritis. The control group consumed 40 grams of soy protein each day for a period of 3 months. Those taking the soy saw a reduction in the arthritic aches and pains, as well as enjoying an improved range of motion in affected joints. Men saw the greatest improvement. Though they are still not sure why soy is so effective, the basic idea is that soy contains isoflavones that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Based on the study, a practical thought comes from Srinivasa N. Raja, MD, a pain management specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He said you would have to eat an unrealistic amount of edamame to hit 40 grams of soy protein, so you are better off mixing a shake with soy protein powder.
Now take a closer look at cherries. Anthocyanins, which give cherries their deep, red color, are also anti-inflammatory substances. They may even be a hair better than the power of aspirin, according to Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, a food-safety researcher at Michigan State University. They do not know what the most effective dosage is, but they encourage folks to eat them at will because, pain management aside, they are good for you!
But Wait – There Is More!
In addition to soy and cherries, here are some additional healthy foods that can reduce pain:
The skin of grapes contains resveratrol, a compound proven in lab experiments to fight cancer, lower blood sugar levels and yes, reduce cell inflammation. Its benefits have been compared to a COX-2 inhibitor like Vioxx, but unlike Vioxx, there are ZERO dangerous side effects. No lawsuits have been filed and no risk of heart attack ever went up from eating too many grapes!
- Olive Oil
Popeye loved her – and for good reason. Adding olive oil to your diet is a great way to get the same benefit of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). It comes from an ingredient called oleocanthal that is known to keep messenger molecules called prostaglandins from causing inflammation and pain.
- Physic Nut
No, I am not talking about someone who is crazy for matter and its movement through the space-time continuum. This is another name for an evergreen shrub that lives in Central America and Mexico. An extract from the leaves of the physic nut – or Jatropha curcas – is a powerful pain reliever and has been used as traditional medicine for years in many parts of the world. At 200 – 400 mg doses, this extract is as successful in reducing pain as aspirin.
What aren’t they good for? Get them in healthy food servings of cold water fish. Also, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and canola oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Whole Foods
If not already, fruits, berries, and vegetables need to become part of your diet. For so many reasons, but 5 or more servings of green and bright colored vegetables, whole fruits, and mixed berries can specifically help reduce pain by lifting your mood.
In addition to certain anti-inflammatory effects of raw foods, feeding your body right and training it to crave the right stuff will give you the same serotonin rush that certain fattening comfort foods give you — only it will last longer. An improved mood has been shown to lower pain because feeling happy makes everything feel better!
What To Avoid
You knew this was coming…
In addition to doing the right thing to put a freeze on your pain, you should also know what not to do. If you are taking the proper, natural steps to feel better, you do not want to make your job harder by doing things that serve to exacerbate your condition.
There is nothing new here either. We have been telling you to avoid these things for years and now you have another compelling reason.
The following items can cause your aches and pains to worsen: