Learn About Pain and Inflammation

Learn about pain and inflammation

Inflammation has an important role in your health. When you are injured or get infected, your body signals the immune system to send white blood cells to the affected areas to repair the injury or fight the infection. Inflammation along with redness, heat, pain and swelling, are actually primary healing tools.

This inflammatory process should be switched off once the invader is dealt with or the tissue is healed. However, sometimes your immune system stays activated after the ‘crisis’ has passed. 

When the inflammatory response persists, it can damage healthy cells and organs and cause constant pain in muscles, tissues and joints. Chronic inflammation can also become a cause of, or contributor to, chronic degenerative diseases like arthritis, depression, neurodegenerative disease, heart disease, autoimmunity and cancer.

Some environmental factors, such as chronic exposure to unfriendly microbes, for example from gum infections or an imbalanced gut microbiome

A poor diet – especially ones rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates, saturated and trans-fats. Overeating, late-night eating and a sedentary lifestyle are also problematic and can stimulate ongoing inflammation and contribute to pain.

Your diet and lifestyle can help reduce inflammation and pain

A wide variety of colourful and dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains as found in a traditional Mediterranean diet, provide you with plenty of special antioxidants known as polyphenols. These phytonutrients have anti-inflammatory properties AND help feed your friendly gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria play a very important role in regulating your immune system, so it is important to keep them happy and healthy!

Eating plenty of plant foods, along with oily fish and some protein-rich foods like eggs also provides you with key nutrients needed by your immune system, including zinc, selenium, vitamin C and B6. Vitamin D, made by the sun’s action on your skin in the summer (as long as you don’t burn) and also in oily fish, eggs and some fortified foods is also an important for the immune system

 

‘Eat a Rainbow’ is a great way to include plenty of colourful plant foods in your diet – aim for at least 5 different veg and fruit each day.

However, ultra-processed and refined foods lack important nutrients and antioxidants and can stimulate the body in a similar way to an infection. Keep these foods to a minimum

Consuming too much added sugar and refined carbohydrates also causes elevated inflammation as well as insulin resistance and weight gain. It can take time to adjust but it’s worth the effort and you will probably lose your sweet tooth. Replacing refined foods with whole foods will also mean you feel fuller for longer so it is easier to eat fewer snacks. On some nights eat earlier in the evening which 

Exercising regularly, participating in activities you enjoy, managing stress and getting a good night’s sleep are also important!