Something as simple as changing your diet may help decrease your pain. A 2015 study found that people eating a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet significantly decreased their osteoarthritis pain—in just two weeks. By the end of the six-week study, they reported more energy and better physical functioning, too.
Another study found that a high-fiber diet lowers the risk for knee osteoarthritis by up to 61%. This was in part due to weight loss since the diet is easy to follow. All meat, dairy, and eggs are omitted, there’s no need to measure or limit portions, restrict intake or worry about eating out. For every pound of weight lost, there is a four-pound reduction in mechanical load exerted on the knee during daily activities. Weight loss of just 15 pounds has been shown to reduce knee pain by 50% in overweight patients.
Chronic pain is tied to inflammation, which is part of the body’s first defense in the immune response. With injury or insult, a complex cascade of responses occur. They ultimately result in scar tissue buildup, decreased flexibility and the acceleration of joint degeneration.
Multiple studies show that Western diets are high in arachidonic acid, which then get modified into products that cause inflammation. The MFPB diet drops the levels of arachidonic acid in the same way as products like Motrin reduce inflammation, but naturally. The WFPB diet also increases levels of omega-3 fats that help to decrease inflammation and eliminates animal proteins that cause changes in the small intestine, allowing immune complexes to be absorbed. These complexes are thought to ultimately damage small vessels over time and lead to auto immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
For most patients with chronic pain, more traditional treatment strategies can include lifestyle changes, physical therapy, nerve blocks or injections, and medications. An often forgotten natural method can be the concept that food is medicine. Anti-inflammatory diets can offer nutrition without the unpleasant side effects of medications (i.e. GI upset, drowsiness, depression, and constipation).
Anti-inflammatory diets continue to gain popularity, as research demonstrates their benefits again and again. Anti-inflammatory nutrition offers not only a natural remedy for pain control, but often brings other health benefits as well. With small changes you might see big differences, with no downside! What’s not to like? Let me know how it works for you.
Stay tuned next week when I’ll discuss specific foods that can help you see a difference in pain levels within two weeks!