Internal inflammation can wreak havoc with your health. You may already be seeing a physical therapist for inflammation-related health issues, such as arthritis. Whether you have a specific diagnosis or generalized pain in your back and joints, physical therapy can help. Your physical therapist may also suggest an anti-inflammatory diet for additional pain relief.
What to Avoid
One of the quickest ways to reverse nutrition-based inflammation is to stop eating the foods most associated with it. Unfortunately, for many people, these foods tend to be convenience items. That means that you may need to readjust how you think about preparing meals and snacks in your quest for pain relief.
On the plus side? There are few surprises in the types of foods that make inflammation worse. You probably already know these nutritional “no-nos” – they’re also bad for your heart and your waistline. So whether your guilty pleasures are savory or sweet, begin to ease them out of your meal plans.
Packaged meals and junk food snacks are often full of trans fat, sugar and preservatives. In addition, avoid fatty and fried foods, red meat, pastries and donuts, white breads, white rice, and semolina pasta. If you’re at all sensitive to inflammatory foods, these are among the worst when it comes to bringing on painful flare-ups.
How to Replace Inflammatory Foods
Many “bad guys” in the food world have easy alternatives. Substitute white bread with whole-grain bread, white rice with brown rice, and semolina pasta with wheat or garbanzo pasta. In place of hamburger, chops, and meatloaf, focus on fish, chicken and veggie “steaks.”
Preparation is also an important component of an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid frying foods or ordering fried foods when eating out. Instead, opt for the same ingredients that have been grilled, roasted or steamed. Rather than topping main courses and side dishes with creamy sauces and dressings, choose healthier alternatives. Topping options for various salads, side dishes, and main courses include vinaigrette, Greek yogurt, tomato salsa, fruit salsa, lemon juice and herbal olive oil.
Along with healthy substitutions of inflammatory foods, look for nutritional choices you can make that directly address internal swelling, Make sure to add these to your meal plans each week, and assess whether your health issues seem to ease in response.
Certain anti-inflammatory herbs, spices, and supplements may provide some pain relief. Multivitamins and fish oil pills are among the supplements noted for their anti-inflammatory properties. Good herbal supplement choices include boswellia, green tea, cat’s claw, and devil’s claw. Other non-food items are turmeric and fresh or powdered ginger for seasoning and green tea as a soothing beverage. (Enjoy green tea hot or chilled.)
The “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables that you’ve heard of for heart health and boosted immunity may also fight inflammation. Eat more colorful fruits like berries and mangos. Vegetables that range from dark green (kale and spinach) to orange (carrots and sweet potatoes) to red/purple (beets and tomatoes) to yellow (sweet peppers and corn) are also great choices.
Along with fish oil pills for omega-3 inflammation protection, add more actual fish to your diet. The types highest in Omega-3 fats are, not surprisingly, fatty fish. Salmon, herring, sardines, trout, mackerel, and tuna all may provide some pain relief when inflammation is the culprit.
Long-term pain relief can rarely be achieved with diet alone. As important as nutrition is, it’s also crucial to consult your doctor about other ways to gain flexibility and reduce pain. Physical therapy can help to work with your dietary changes. Together, these changes address the inflammation that’s causing stiffness and discomfort. Call our office today to learn more about how physical therapy and nutritional coaching can make a difference.