Six Ways Nutrition Impacts Chronic Pain - Hope 103.2

Six Ways Nutrition Impacts Chronic Pain

When it comes to chronic pain, thoughtful food choices can be an excellent tool on your journey to improved health.

By Kelli KieselbachSaturday 11 Nov 2023LifestyleReading Time: 4 minutes

Have you ever thought about how the food you eat can influence your chronic pain?

I know some of you would be shaking your head right now – and that’s okay!

It’s a connection that often goes unnoticed.

However, research has shed light on how various aspects of our dietary choices can either aggravate or help to alleviate chronic pain.

As a qualified naturopath and clinical nutritionist with a special interest in chronic pain conditions, I’m here to guide you through the intricate relationship between nutrition and chronic pain.

Let’s dive into the key factors which connect your daily diet to chronic pain.

We can uncover how making thoughtful food choices can be an excellent tool on your journey to improved health.

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1. Nutritional deficiencies

A deficiency in vital nutrients can intensify chronic pain.

Addressing these deficiencies can make a world of difference in pain management.

Certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), all have essential roles in managing pain.

This is not an exhaustive list but are the ones I see pop up most frequently in clinic.

It’s important to know that nutritional deficiencies can occur even with a good diet, due to other factors such as stress or where food is grown. Other factors include your ability to absorb nutrients, the medications you take and separate health conditions.

2. Inflammatory foods

Have you heard of inflammatory foods?

Chances are you have if you have been suffering with chronic pain for a while now and, like me, you also follow every chronic pain practitioner under the sun on social media.

Do you know also know why inflammatory foods have such a negative effect on your pain?

Well, a diet filled with inflammatory foods — such as white bread, fast food, and vegetable oils – produces more inflammatory compounds and can also trigger pain signals in your digestive system.

This not only heightens your pain but also triggers inflammation throughout your body, contributing to central sensitisation.

Central sensitisation is a hypervigilant wound-up nervous system, associated with pain and fatigue syndromes, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

3. Food sensitivities or intolerances

Identifying and eliminating foods which your body is sensitive or intolerant to can be a real game-changer.

These foods often trigger inflammatory responses and worsen pain symptoms.

Some common culprits include gluten, dairy, oxalates, and food additives.

It’s important to seek advice from a qualified practitioner before implementing any major dietary exclusions.

4. Diets low in antioxidants

Antioxidants act as your body’s armour, guarding against chronic pain and inflammation caused by oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is the result of too many compounds (free radicals) which can cause damage to cells and not enough antioxidants to neutralise them.

This elevation in oxidative stress has been associated with chronic pain.

5. Microbiome abnormalities

An unhappy gut microbiome (bacteria which live in your digestive tract) can contribute to chronic pain via several mechanisms.

The balance and diversity of your microbiome is directly influenced by your fibre intake, fat consumption and how many processed foods find their way into your diet.

6. Low protein diet

Protein isn’t just for athletes; it’s a vital component for everyone, especially when dealing with chronic pain.

Consider protein as the crucial workforce responsible for your body’s repairs.

Protein also forms the building blocks for critical hormones and brain chemicals involved in pain signalling.

Ensuring you eat enough protein is a way of equipping your body with the essential tools to facilitate healing and enhance chronic pain management.

Individual assessment is key

It’s important to remember that the effectiveness of these dietary strategies can vary from person to person.

Your unique circumstances and the underlying causes of your pain should be considered when crafting a nutrition plan.

That’s why individual assessment with a qualified healthcare provider is crucial.

Empowering your journey to pain relief

By recognising the impact of your food choices on your pain perception and incorporating evidence-based dietary strategies, you can take proactive steps toward managing conditions such as fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, Long Covid, arthritis, auto-immune pain conditions and migraines.

Your diet is a powerful player in either exacerbating or alleviating chronic pain.

Article supplied with thanks to Kelli Kieselbach.

About the Author: Kelli Kieselbach is a naturopath and nutritionist with a passion for a holistic and natural approach to health and wellbeing. She also works to educate Christian ministry leaders in self-care and avoiding burnout.

Feature image: Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash