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Can the Foods You Eat Make a Difference in Chronic Pain?

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is defined as a localized reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, or infection. Symptoms of inflammation include pain, swelling, red coloration to the area, and sometimes loss of movement or function. We commonly think of inflammation as the painful component of arthritis. Inflammation is also a component of chronic diseases such as heart disease and strokes.

Inflammatory Foods

The foods you eat play an important role in how you feel. Loading up on junk foods and fast foods tend to make you feel worse due to the unhealthy fats that are used in the cooking process. Junk foods also usually contain ingredients that can irritate inflammation. Red meat, eggs, and wheat products all contain something called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for your health, too much arachidonic acid in the diet will make your inflammation worse. Junk and processed foods often contain too much sugar too. Anecdotal evidence suggests that excessive consumption of sugars and refined starchy carbohydrates like white flour can also aggravate inflammation. Another possible source of irritation are plants from the nightshade family.

Nightshade Plants

While whole fruits and vegetables are important for their vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants, some vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant may actually make inflammation worse. These vegetables are part of the nightshade family of plants and contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine. Solanine can trigger inflammation in some people and nightshade plants should be avoided to see if your pain and inflammation improves.

Water And Dehydration

One big factor in pain is dehydration. When you do not drink enough water, you hurt and inflammation feels worse. Make sure to drink at least 1 liter of water with 15 drops of Multi 21 every day. Avoid heavy caffeine and alcohol consumption because they contain diuretics that may cause your body to lose water.

Delayed Food Allergies

Many people have delayed reaction to foods that will increase inflammation and pain. These type of "food allergies" are not really allergies like hay fever, but they do involve the immune system and can make pain and inflammation much worse. Frequently the underlying problem is due to faulty digestion or excessive consumption of any particular food. Most any food that is consumed more than 4 days a week can be suspected as a possible allergen, but some of the more common allergic foods are milk and dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, beef, yeast, and soy. Even healthy foods can cause problems. There are tests that can be performed, or elimination diets that can be undertaken to determine the allergic foods.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Essential Fatty Acids, Fats, and Oils

Adding anti-inflammatory foods that contain the right type of fats in your diet will impact pain and inflammation in a positive way. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in cold water oily fish, walnuts, flax and pumpkin seeds and will help to reduce inflammation. Adding omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements with flax oil or fish oil capsules may also help reduce inflammation, just be sure to speak with a doctor or nutritionist before taking larger, therapeutic doses of any supplements. Olive oil is another type of oil that won't promote inflammation. In fact, Olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and will help to reduce pain. Other healthy oils include canola oil, grape-seed oil, and walnut oil.


Protein is needed to build healthy body tissues. Good protein choices include lean poultry, fish and seafood, nuts, legumes and seeds. Red meats may trigger inflammation, so cut back on fatty red meats. When you do eat red meat, choose grass-fed, low fat bison, venison and other game meats. Soybeans, tofu, and soy milk (unfermented) are three sources of soy proteins that may help to reduce your pain and inflammation but should be limited.

Carbohydrates and Fiber

Stay away from the starchier carbohydrates like pastas and white breads and you should avoid sugar too. Choose green leafy vegetables, green and brightly colored vegetables and lots of fresh whole fruits. Berries are a great choice, especially blueberries and strawberries which are packed with anti-inflammatory phytochemical and anti-oxidants. Apples and red onions are great sources of quercetin, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Green vegetables and whole fruits are also important as sources of dietary fiber. Oats and oatmeal contain beneficial fiber too.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips

Over all, when you are choosing anti-inflammatory foods to help reduce your inflammation and pain, choose fresh foods instead of heavily processed foods. here are some tips:

  • Breakfast could be oatmeal served with fresh berries and walnuts, with a cup of soy milk.

  • Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables throughout the day instead of cookies and candy.

  • Eat more fish and less fatty red Meat.

  • Stay away from deep fried foods and bake or stir fry your side dishes.

  • Drink plenty of water, fresh 100% juices, herbal teas, and green tea.



This information is not meant to diagnose, treat or replace traditional treatment, and has not been approved by the FDA or HPB.

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