The number of people I see in clinic who have not taken the anti-inflammatory and pain medication prescribed by their doctor is quite surprising. There seems to be a growing awareness of the side effects of medication, particularly for people with sensitive stomachs. Some people say they simply do not like taking medication. Whatever the reason, many people are turning to alternative methods to rid the body of inflammation, such as ice, rest and natural supplements.
Many people do not consider the effect of diet on inflammation in the body. Inflammation is so much more than the area of swelling over your knee – it happens on a cellular level throughout the body. Medical research is now showing just how much of an effect the digestive system has on energy, mood, brain function, inflammation, and overall health. Virtually every aspect of your health begins with the nutrients (or lack thereof) in the foods you eat.
The information in this post is not meant to replace medical advice from your family doctor. Rather, it is meant to start you thinking about how specific nutrients can help the healing process. The following is a short list of foods, spices and nutrients that help to fight pain and inflammation.
1. Extra virgin olive oil
- Rich in anti-oxidants
- Contains compounds similar to ibuprofen
2. Fish Oil
- Contains compounds called EHA and DPA that decrease inflammation and support good health in virtually every body system
- Try getting your fish oil by choosing local, wild caught salmon for dinner!
- If you use a supplement, make sure it is certified mercury-free by the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards Program)
- Contains an enzyme called bromelain that reduces pain and inflammation, and aids digestion
- Best consumed fresh (rather than canned or in juice)
- Contains a compound called gingerol, which reduces pain and inflammation
- Has been used for thousands of years to promote wound healing and fight inflammation
- It may be difficult to consume enough of the spice to have the desired effect, so a turmeric supplement is often recommended
- Aids certain blood cells that rid the body of harmful substances and decreases the effects of several inflammatory enzymes
- The general recommendation is 2-4 cloves per day, but this can also be taken in supplement form
- Plant pigments (coloring) found in blueberries, green tea, grapes, cocoa, red wine, fruits and vegetables
- The effects of antioxidants keep inflammation under control
In all circumstances, it is important to talk to your doctor or surgeon about the medications you have been prescribed, especially if you have concerns. Talk to a family doctor, nutritionist, dietician or naturopathic physician more about dietary suggestions to help you recover faster and feel better.
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