When it comes to body aches and pains, most of us typically reach for Advil for alleviation. Although there's no harm in taking painkillers once in awhile, no one wants to rely on medication, but luckily, you can eat certain types of foods for pain relief instead. Just as diet plays a role in our energy levels, our mood, and how well we sleep, food can also help to ease pain with the important nutrients it contains.
"Foods can help with pain since they can exert an anti-inflammatory effect," says Stacy Roberts-Davis, RD, LDN over email. Eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, including minimally processed, high-fiber, plant-based foods can help decrease pain as well as chances of certain issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are definitely times when painkillers are necessary, but overall, Americans are using painkillers at an all-time high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For instances where they aren't necessary, they can detrimental health effects. "Painkillers have side effects, which can lead to more medication and could be addicting," says Roberts-Davis. Food is a good viable option for at least minimizing some of the pain.
If you're looking to relieve discomfort the all-natural way, consider eating one of these seven foods that can help give you pain relief.
Ginger has long been used as a natural pain remedy, and for good reason."Ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, like gingerols, which may reduce the aches of osteoarthritis and sore muscles," says Roberts-Davis. A study published in the journal Arthritis found that ginger was more effective at treating pain than cortisol or ibuprofen.
2. Tart Cherries
A study from Johns Hopkins Hospital found that tart cherries provide effective reduction of inflammatory pain, while another study from the International Journal of Sports Nutrition also found that tart cherry juice can help relieve muscle soreness from exercise. "Anthocyanins, which give tart cherries their deep red color, have anti-inflammatory properties similar to those in aspirin," says Roberts-Davis.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, the active component that is responsible for the pepper's spicy taste. But in addition to spice, capsaicin also reduces the amount of substance P, the chemical that carries pain messages to your brain. "Capsaicin is the active ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter creams, ointments, and patches for arthritis and musclepain," says Roberts-Davis.
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil has long been touted for its heart-healthy benefits, but as it turns out, it also has powerful pain-relieving properties as well. The oil contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme called oleocanthal, which acts like an aspirin or ibuprofen to sooth pain, according to WebMD. "Extra-virgin olive oil has a higher percentage of antioxidants than light olive oil," says Roberts-Davis.
Pineapple contains a plant enzyme called bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory effects and pain relieving properties, according to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This enzyme has proven to be an effective treatment especially for osteoarthritis.
"Fatty fish like salmon can help with joint pain, as they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids," says Roberts-Davis. Studies from the journal Surgical Neurology found fish-oil supplements to be an effective remedy for neck and back pain compared to traditional painkillers.
"Curcumin, is the active ingredient in turmeric that can decrease swelling," says Roberts-Davis. Using turmeric to relieve pain is a centuries-old treatment, but multiple studies have shown that curcumin is an effective tool to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Everyone experiences different levels of pain, and some situations do require pain medications, so check with your doctor if you're still unable to find relief.
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