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Chronic Pain and Food

Inflamation can be a good thing. Normal inflamation is our body’s reponse to infection or injury – when inflamed you limit movement and this gives the body a better chance to heal itself.

…Chronic or sustained inflamation on the other hand is another matter. Unchecked, inflamation can destroy healthy arteries, joints and organs, leading to increased risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.


Recognising the signs of chronic inflammation

The problem is, you might feel relatively normal.

Symptoms, if you get them, might include

  • Reduced movement – difficulty moving one or several joint(s), slower movement in general

  • Swelling – fluid can build up sometimes around joints or generally all over the body

  • Pain – back ache, joint pain, soreness

  • Redness or heat – excess blood flow to the inflamed areas can cause heating and/or swelling

  • Tiredness – fatigue, lethargy and/or flu-like symptoms

The conclusive way to assess inflammation is to carry out a blood test for C-reactive protein, the marker for inflammation?

Did you know there are some foods that elicit an inflammation response in the body – aggravating conditions like arthritis or even cancer?

Why do you need to know?

Usually when inflammation is a result of infection, toxin or injury, the body reacts by accumulating plasma proteins to safeguard the area and then sending white blood cells to fight the problem.

In the case of chronic inflammation similar responses can be triggered by

  • Autoimmune disorders – e.g. psoriasis

  • Auto inflammatory diseases – e.g. Behcet disease

  • Obesity – the body’s response to the hormones secreted by excess fat

  • Diet – added sugar, trans fats

  • Stress – cortisol released when a person is stressed can trigger inflammatory responses

The immune system cells that cause inflammation are contributors to a build-up of plaque in arteries. This plaque can eventually block arteries in the heart completely causing a heart attack; or, break off and cause blockages to blood flow to the brain causing a stroke.

In the short to medium term, inflammation will most likely lead to less movement and therefor weight gain over time.

Reducing your risk

It is possible to control or even reverse inflammation via diet and lifestyle.

A few tips for fighting inflammation:

  • Manage stress – getting enough sleep is one of the most important factors that can assist with this. Other tools include yoga, meditation, guided breathing

  • Avoid inflammation trigger foods – too much red meat and any foods containing trans fats e.g. margarine, deep fried foods and most processed foods

  • Manage blood sugar – reduce simple carbohydrates like sugar, white flour, white rice

  • Exercise – regular aerobic and weight or resistance exercise reduces inflammation

  • Maintain a healthy weight – excess weight triggers more inflammation

  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods – fruits, vegetables and foods containing omega-3 are excellent for reducing inflammation

What next

If you suspect you might be suffering from inflammation it is worth arranging a blood test as soon as possible. Your GP can assist or you can contact Gr8 New Me to organise this and work with your to develop meal plans that will combat inflammation going forwards.

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