Wendy Russo- Certifed personal trainer, Certified nutrition coach
When you think of what to eat for dinner, you probably don’t take your aching joints or throbbing back into account. But you should.
The food you eat can play a major role in how you feel – and that includes your physical aches and pains.
We’re not talking about foods like beans that might make you uncomfortably gassy… What we’re talking about here is pain from chronic inflammation – the kind linked to arthritis, other joint problems, muscle pain and more.
Certain foods are highly inflammatory, which makes sense because inflammation is part of your body’s immune response – and 70 percent of your immune system cells are in your gut.
While inflammation is beneficial in the short term (it helps your wounds and infections heal), when inflammation becomes chronic – as it can when you eat pro-inflammatory foods – it contributes to disease and exacerbates pain.
That being said, following are some of the worst foods for pain, which should be strategically avoided if you want to minimize your level of pain.
The 5 Worst Pain-Causing Foods
This one is probably obvious by now as you know how bad sugar is for you. Cookies, candy, ice cream, brownies, doughnuts … all of these are loaded with sugar, which drives up your blood sugar and insulin, along with levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
#4. Bagels, Muffins, Breads, and Pasta
Any member of the refined carbohydrate family – white bread, muffins, pasta, bagels, etc. – drives up inflammation due to the same reasons as sugar. In fact, there’s not much difference between refined carbs like a bagel or muffin, and a heaping serving of sugar, as far as your body is concerned. In addition, almost all of these foods are wheat-based, which has another reason it can cause inflammation — due to gluten and other anti-nutrients found in wheat that cause internal inflammation in your body.
#3. French Fries
These make the list because they’re a common source of synthetic trans fats, which come from foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats are strongly linked to systemic, chronic inflammation … and are so bad for you that the Institute of Medicine recommends you simply keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible or avoid fully.
French fries are by no means the only culprit; trans fats are also commonly found in savory snacks (like microwave popcorn), frozen pizzas, cake, cookies, pie, margarines and spreads, ready-to-use frosting, and coffee creamers.
#2. Blackened, Charred or Barbecued Foods
Any time a food is cooked at high temperature without water and browned (this includes foods that are broiled, fried, grilled, blackened, barbecued, etc.), toxic advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed. These are different than endogenous AGEs formed from eating too much grains and sugar that keeps your blood sugar elevated. Instead, AGEs from browned or charred foods are called exogenous AGEs, and are readily absorbed by your body, where they wreak havoc, causing internal inflammation.
While grilling, frying and broiling your food is known to increases AGEs, other cooking methods that use water such as stewing, boiling, braising, crock pot or steaming will instead help minimize the amount of exogenous AGEs (and HCAs) formed in your food. I know it’s not realistic for most people to eliminate grilled foods fully, so we’ll show you below some herbs that help to counteract the toxic effects of grilled or charred foods.
#1. Vegetable Oils (Polyunsaturated)
Soybean oil, corn oil, canola, safflower and sunflower oils are examples of vegetable oils that are rich in omega-6 fats, which most Americans consume far too much of (pick up any processed food from the grocery store and you’ll probably see soybean oil or corn oil on the label). Excess refined omega-6 fats are highly inflammatory, which is why it’s important to limit the amount of vegetable oils you consume. Olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, and grass-fed butter are all healthier choices.
Herbs and nutrients can FIGHT inflammation and HALT pain:
Certain foods, herbs and teas are naturally anti-inflammatory and help to eliminate pain in your body. But there are some natural substances that you might not ordinarily eat, which are among the most powerful on the planet for stopping inflammation – and related pain – in its tracks.
For instance… Turmeric, Devil’s Claw, Boswellia Extract, Bromelain … each of these is powerful in its own right, but when they’re combined together, and added to even more anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving ingredients like proteolytic enzymes (these work throughout your entire body to help it fight inflammation, dissolve scar tissue and more), the result is VERY powerful.
These are some anti-inflammatory ingredients which are some of the most powerful, safest, and most effective pain relievers in the world – and they’re a must if you’re currently suffering with pain (and especially if you eat any of the highly inflammatory foods mentioned above!).
I’d highly suggest trying some combination of enzymes, spices, and herbs to control inflammation, or finding a Dr who can help you to do the same.