Chronic pain affects millions of people each year, and the majority of the affected are people from the elderly population. This type of pain can be frustrating. Chronic pain often does not have a specific treatment plan or diagnosis. For this reason, most patients are either given low doses of pain medications or are told by their doctors to fight their pain naturally and on their own. Fortunately though, nature has given humans amazing natural medications in the form of food to fight pain and disease. Anti-inflammatory diets have been linked to weight loss, pain relief and even cancer prevention. Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your elderly loved one’s diet can greatly improve their health and reduce their pain level. If you are taking care of an elderly loved one who suffers from chronic pain, then consider adding a few of these foods to their daily diets to help combat pain and keep their health in check.
Eat Less Animal Protein Sources
Replacing beef, pork, poultry and dairy proteins with proteins from fish allows you to increase your consumption of both DHA and EPA. These are long chain omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to reduce the pain and symptoms associated with various forms of arthritis. They aid the body by reducing its inflammatory process. Short chain omega-3 fatty acids can also provide the body with DHA and EPA. These types of fatty acids are found in many plants. To reduce the amount of animal protein in your diet you can try adding salmon, black cod, tuna, sardines, halibut, herring or anchovies to your diet. These fish are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids. Always look for wild caught fish as well. Farm-raised fish may contain toxic chemicals or antibiotics, but wild caught fish is caught in the ocean and is healthier.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices
Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, curry, and ginger all contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Incorporating these spices into your diet can help inhibit the formation of inflammatory complexes in your body and reduce the overall inflammation in your tissues. This will reduce chronic pain and make you healthier. Incorporating these spices into your diet can be very simple and tasty.
Eat Healthy Fats
Fats do not have to be bad for you, and in fact, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your body to maintain optimum health. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in most fatty fish. They are also found in coconut oil, olive oil, grape-seed oil, avocados, ground flax, and nut butters. These fats should be eaten instead of omega-6 fatty acids if possible. Omega-6 fatty acids are also known as saturated fats. They are found in highly processed foods and induce inflammation in your body. Cutting back on saturated fat and adding healthy fats such as omega-3 can help fuel anti-inflammatory hormones which will reduce chronic pain.
Eat a Wide Variety of Plants
Plant based food sources such as fruits and vegetables are low in calories, rich in nutrients and packed full of fiber. Fruits and veggies cannot be unhealthy. By adding more fruits and veggies to your diet you can cut out processed foods and add a boost of nutrients to your body. The nutrients derived from plant based foods can reduce inflammation, amp up your health, and keep your body in working order. Eating a plant based diet will only help your health though if you also reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet. Processed foods wreak havoc on your health and will outweigh the benefits of eating plant based foods if you continue to eat them for the majority of your diet.
Many people underestimate the ability of bacteria to help human health. When most people think of bacteria they are grossed out. They think that bacteria are only pathogenic and should be washed away. For this reason, people spend hours cleaning their homes during cold and flu season to essentially wipe out the germs and bacteria from their homes. However, bacterial cells outweigh human cells in every single person on Earth. Bacteria colonize every part of the human body and keep their health in order by synthesizing nutrients, digesting food, and by inhibiting other pathogenic bacteria from colonizing. Your digestive tract is full of bacteria that are beneficial to your health. However, many people do not have a good gut bacterial profile. This can make them feel sluggish and can cause inflammation. To combat this, you can take probiotics. Probiotics are strains of good bacteria that can colonize your body and keep your health in check. They can be found in active cultured yogurts such as Greek yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut and kefir. They also can be taken in pill form and can be found in the vitamin aisle at the drug store.
It is extremely easy to get in the habit of popping a few over the counter pain pills each day. Many people wake up and the first thing they do each morning is take Aleve, Advil, etc. Overtime these medications can actually do more harm than good because of their side effects. Many over the counter pain medications can cause stomach pain, stomach damage, or liver damage. All of these side effects can be serious and cause more issues than the initial pain that was felt by the patient. Changing the way that people eat though can help protect a patient’s body from damage felt from inflammation and ease their pain. Plus, anti-inflammatory diets often lead to weight loss. Extra weight can lead to joint and muscle pain due to the extra pounds putting stress on the body. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can greatly improve your elderly loved one’s health by reducing their chronic pain and by possibly helping them lose weight. Overall, they should feel better and have far more energy after eating these foods and cutting back on junk and processed foods.
For additional information about healthy eating, check the articles in our home care blog: