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How Proper Nutrition Can Help Manage Your Pain

young woman making a healthy meal

If you suffer from pain, you may think about medication, physical therapy, heat and/or ice treatments, and other ways to help manage it. Food, however, can also play an important role in alleviating pain.

How does food affect pain?

Diet can be linked with inflammation, which occurs when your body is reacting to an injury or infection. It can cause swelling and pain, and in some cases, inflammation – and its resulting pain - can become chronic.

For patients with chronic pain from fibromyalgia, experts think that overly sensitive nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain can affect how you process pain. Some foods may heighten this sensitivity.

What foods are encouraged?

Olive oil

Olive oil has been linked to a reduction in health issues related to inflammation, such as diabetes or joint diseases. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil may contain compounds similar to ibuprofen, which helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Foods rich in omega-3 fats

Omega-3 fats are healthy fats that play a role in regulating the inflammatory process as well as pain. Some fish – including salmon, tuna, and trout – contains plenty of omega-3s. You’ll also get a lot of these beneficial fats in walnuts, pecans, soy-based foods, and ground flaxseed.

Foods with antioxidants

Antioxidants can prevent or repair some types of cell and tissue damage. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, avocados, and berries. In addition, you can get antioxidants from lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and some spices, including ginger.

Foods rich in resveratrol

Resveratrol is a compound that’s thought to reduce inflammation, and it’s found in red grapes, berries, and peanuts. Combining it with turmeric, a spice that can also be taken as a supplement, may enhance the effect.

Foods high in protein

Protein may reduce inflammation as well as pain, and it also helps to build muscle. Foods high in protein include fish, beef, poultry, eggs, cottage cheese, beans, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.

What foods should be avoided?

Junk food

Refined sugar, fried foods, and highly processed foods may compromise your immune system and irritate muscles. In addition, many of these products are high in calories and low in nutritional value, so they don’t benefit your health.


Carbohydrate-heavy meals may cause pain to flare about two hours later in some people. When you do eat carbohydrates, it may help to also eat protein at the same time.


This food additive can trigger chronic inflammation pathways, and it’s found in prepared Asian food and soy sauce, as well as fast food, deli meats, prepared soups, and salad dressings.


If you have joint pain, you should avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, nutritional counseling should be a important component of your care. Make an appointment today with Performance Health in New York City. We have over 30 providers under one roof who can help mange your pain.

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