If you struggle with chronic pain, inflammation could be to blame. Many people suffer from lower back pain, neck pain, arthritis pain, joint pain, muscle pain, and muscle spasm as a result of injury or other medical conditions.
As a society, we have been conditioned to reach for pain relief in the form of aspirins, prescription narcotics, corticosteroids, or OTC meds such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications may be effective in the short term but won't solve the root cause of the pain or inflammation.
Stress, lifestyle, environmental toxins, and diet are all contributors to chronic, pain-causing inflammation. Luckily, it is possible to restore good health and address pain management with a few healthy lifestyle shifts.
Finding the right combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory foods, and natural supplements is vital in supporting the body's ability to heal and recover.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body's natural immune response to heal wounds and fight off illness. The body sends white blood cells to the affected area to immediately begin the healing process. Inflammation lessens as healing progresses.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, builds up slowly over time. It contributes to many chronic illnesses including auto-immune disorders, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. (Source)
Pain is our body's way of getting our attention. When we discover what is triggering the pain, we can make necessary adjustments.
Eliminating pro-inflammatory foods and adding anti-inflammatory foods and nutritional supplements is an important way to self-manage pain from the inside out.
Common Inflammation Triggers:
*Refined sugar and flour
*Highly processed packaged foods
There may be other foods that trigger inflammation in your body.
It is important to mindfully take note of how the food you eat affects you in different ways. Many find it helpful to keep a food and pain journal to help identify patterns.
The signals your body sends may show up in the form of a headache, body aches or stiffness, or a full-blown chronic condition flare-up. This can happen immediately after eating a certain food trigger or more commonly, even after a few days.
Because of this, it is important to note how your body typically responds.Foods That Fight Pain: Revo...Shop on Amazon
Remember: Every body is different! Keeping track of your symptoms and dietary patterns is an empowering tool that will help on a journey to healing.
Turmeric is made from a root that is in the same family as ginger. This pungent root is most commonly used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
It has been increasingly used for medicinal purposes due to its most potent active ingredient, curcumin.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects. It can be found as a supplement in pill form, or powder form, and can be made into teas.
Curcumin alone isn't exceptionally bio-available, so it is important to combine it with black pepper (piperine). In doing so, it will help to boost absorption by 2000%.
Notably, curcumin is similar to fat-soluble vitamins and works best when taken with food that includes healthy fat. I like to take a spoonful of coconut oil or black seed oil when I consume turmeric for maximum absorption and an extra anti-inflammatory boost. (source)
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When it comes to turmeric supplements, my favorite brands are MegaFood, Gaia, and Garden of Life. Both are reputable companies that use clean, trustworthy, whole-food ingredients.
These supplements have wonderful reviews from those who have experienced significant relief and powerful results.MegaFood Turmeric Curcumin ...Shop on Amazon Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme...Shop on Amazon Garden Of Life, Turmeric Ex...Shop on Amazon
Curcumin is also fat-soluble, so take it with a healthy fat to further improve absorption. Even just a spoonful of coconut oil will suffice!Garden of Life Coconut Oil ...Shop on Amazon
There are a few people who should avoid taking turmeric or curcumin in higher doses. Turmeric has blood-thinning properties.
Because of this, people with clotting disorders, pregnant women, or those who take blood-thinning medications should avoid use.
Gallstones and diabetes may also be a contraindication to consider before taking curcumin. (Source)
As always, consult a doctor before making any changes to your healthcare routine.
Staying within the same Zingiberaceae family as turmeric, ginger is another spice that comes from the root of a flowering plant. Like turmeric, it contains exceptional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
For medicinal purposes, ginger and turmeric work very well combined or used individually.
Ginger is also commonly used for nausea and indigestion. It is well known for its gut-healing benefits.
This combination not only reduces inflammatory markers but also is great support for a healthy immune system during cold and flu season!
Gingerol is the active anti-inflammatory compound in this wonderfully useful root.
Notably, it has also been used to improve immune function and decrease symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Ginger can be eaten raw, sauteed, juiced, made into tea, or ground into a powder.
If you are looking for ginger in supplement form, Pure Synergy is a reputable company that produces a high-quality USDA organic product.PURE SYNERGY SuperPure Ging...Shop on Amazon
As with turmeric, in large doses, ginger may interfere with blood clotting properties. Always consult a doctor before use.
Tart cherries are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins. These antioxidants decrease inflammation, muscle soreness after exercise, and oxidative stress.
Research has shown significant improvement in patients using tart cherry juice to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis and gout.
Eating tart cherries, juicing, or consuming a more concentrated form of tart cherry extract have all shown remarkable benefits in reducing chronic back pain and inflammation.
Studies have also shown this potent fruit can help to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol", decrease blood pressure, and reduce uric acid (relieving gout symptoms) with regular consumption. (Source)
When taken an hour before sleep, tart cherry helps regulate the body's natural sleep pattern and melatonin production. It does this without making you feel sleepy during the day.
A convenient way to take tart cherry is in concentrate powder, liquid, or capsule form.
Sports Research produces a phenomenal product made from organic Montmorency cherries in a convenient liquid soft gel.Sports Research Tart Cherry...Shop on Amazon
Find out the differences between Tart Cherry Juice vs Capsule here!
Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in wild-caught fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies.
Omega-3 fatty acids improve heart and brain health. For this reason, it is important to consume DHA and EPA during pregnancy for improved fetal brain development.
Additionally, Omega-3's help to lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
Including fish in your diet is very beneficial. To benefit from Omega-3's anti-inflammatory benefits, it may be necessary to consume a higher concentration than what is found in a fish dinner.
You can purchase supplemental forms of fish oil supplements or cod liver oil from health food stores.
Additionally, Cod liver oil is high in vitamins A and D. these may help with vitamin d deficiency. Cod liver oil acts as excellent support for skin and immune health.
Carlson brand produces high-quality cod liver oil products that are wild-caught and sustainably sourced. Because of this high quality, Carlson cod liver oil capsules rank high among consumers.Carlson - Cod Liver Oil Gem...Shop on Amazon
Always consult a doctor before use, especially if you are taking certain medications.
Within this delicious tropical fruit lies a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain supports the body's ability to break down protein. Because of this, it is a common ingredient in digestive enzyme supplements.
Interestingly, bromelain has also been shown to relieve sinus inflammation, improve circulation, fight cancer growth, suppress excessive coughing, and reduce pain-causing inflammation.
The pineapple's core has the highest concentration of bromelain. Eating or juicing pineapple is an effective way to reap the benefits. Additionally, you can take bromelain in a supplement form.
Superior Labs produces one of the few bromelain supplements that are non-GMO and free from fillers and other synthetic ingredients.
Additionally, many consumers have left rave reviews for the product. If you don't want to eat or juice a pineapple regularly, this is the next best option to reap the incredible benefits.Superior Labs – Best Brom...Shop on Amazon
Consult a physician if you have any health conditions or take any medications, especially kidney, liver, or bleeding disorders.
Moringa Oleifera is a tree indigenous to India that has been used medicinally for centuries.
Its leaves are rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants. Because of this, moringa provides multiple health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties.
Moringa is one of the most effective pain relievers for several conditions that cause pain and inflammation from chronic low back pain and degenerative disc disease to rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer.
Moringa helps reduce free-radical damage and oxidative stress. When consumed regularly, moringa helps balance blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
Moringa comes in powder or capsule form. An easy way to reap the benefits of this potent superfood is to mix it in with juice or smoothies.
Because moringa is very bitter, I recommend mixing it with fruit or a rich-flavored protein shake. To bypass the taste altogether, you can opt for the capsule form.
Kuli Kuli's moringa powder is the most potent and effective form I have tried. If you choose this form definitely mix to mask the taste. Also, start slowly with dosing, as it packs a powerful punch that may take some time to get used to!Kuli Kuli Moringa Vegetable...Shop on Amazon
My go-to brand of moringa in capsule form is Paisley Farm and Crafts. Additionally, their customer service is excellent, quick to respond, and informative.Paisley Farm and Crafts Mor...Shop on Amazon Turmeric Peppercorn, Ginger...Shop on Amazon
Please consult a doctor before use, especially if you have a medical condition or when taking certain medications.
More Anti-inflammatory Foods
Nature provides a vast array of foods, herbs, and spices with substantial health benefits.
Eating and juicing fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens is an exceptional way to provide your body with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Undeniably, this helps to nourish the body's critical systems, fight free radicals, and reduce pain-causing inflammation.
Adding anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is an excellent way to boost health, and energy, and reduce painful inflammation. See also our article on the benefits of black seed oil.
Remember, it is always important to drink plenty of fresh, clean water every day to support the body's ability to flush out toxins that may contribute to inflammatory conditions.
What anti-inflammatory foods have helped you on your healing journey? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is informational only. Always consult your physician before making changes to your healthcare routine.