Nobody likes to feel sore and achey all the time. If you experience chronic pain, it can contribute to many other conditions and sabotage your mental health. But if you’re looking for natural ways to relieve pain, the first place to look to is your diet. My good friend and incredible Nutritionist, Sam Gemmell, has taken the time to write this guest blog to explain more.
Fatty fish are a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are naturally anti-inflammatory. Most studies that have been published focus on omega-3 supplements. But there are small studies that support consuming it as part of the diet as well. One showed that consuming fatty fish 4 times per week can reduce inflammatory compounds in the body.
3-4 serves of oily fish per week is a good number to aim for. If you prefer plant-based sources, include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds daily to reap the benefits.
Looking for a healthy source of fat to include in your diet? High quality olive oil has properties that may help to reduce joint-related symptoms. One animal study showed that extra-virgin olive oil reduced joint swelling, slowed the destruction of cartilage and reduced inflammation.
But don’t worry – the benefits are for people as well! One study showed that people who consume olive oil are less likely to have rheumatoid arthritis.
Olive oil can be drizzled over salads, or used to sauté ingredients. But it's not great for deep frying - deep frying isn't good for you anyway!
Berries are the best fruit ever, at least in my opinion! They are chock-full of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation naturally.
One study showed that people who ate at least two servings of strawberries per week were 14% less likely to have elevated inflammatory markers. Researchers also suggest that blueberries and strawberries may offer protection against arthritis.
Want to up your berry intake? Chuck them in your smoothies, porridge, salads or just straight into your mouth.
Spice things up in the kitchen! Pretty much any herb or spice will have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But if we’re going to play favourites, turmeric and ginger are bestfor sore joints and arthritis.
There are many research studies that show supplementing with turmeric can be beneficial for arthritis. But adding it into your diet can still help as well! Turmeric is not well absorbed, so the best consume it is with a source of good fats and some black pepper. Research into turmeric and ginger has shown that both have anti-arthritic effects.
How to use them? It’s simple – sprinkle your favourites spices everywhere! Turmeric and ginger can be added to sweet and savoury dishes.
Tart cherry juice
Tart cherries are packed full of antioxidants that can support your joint health. One study looking at osteoarthritis showed that consuming 475ml of tart cherry juice daily significantly reduced symptoms and inflammation. Tart cherry juice can also reduce inflammatory markers.
But the benefits don't stop there. Tart cherry juice is also a natural source of melatonin, which is needed for deep, restful sleep. If you’re not getting quality sleep, your body can’t repair damage effectively, which can exacerbate pain.
Ready to get into tart cherry juice? Make sure you choose an unsweetened variety. Otherwise, a lot of the benefits will be cancelled out by excess sugar.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my coffee. But green tea is king when it comes to caffeine-containing beverages if you’re in pain.
Green tea contains a potent antioxidant known as ECGC. ECGC has been shown to reduce inflammatory cytokines in research. And although trials are in the early stages, the research also suggests that it could be beneficial in reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis.
I often recommend that coffee drinkers alternate between coffee and green tea – so if you drink 4 cups of coffee per day, try 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of green tea. But if you're not big on caffeine, even one cup a day can offer health benefits.
Sam is a nutritionist, health writer and wellness speaker based in Melbourne. She loves to spread knowledge about food as medicine, and is passionate about personalised nutrition. You can find out more on her website.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully. She has a special interest in chronic pain conditions, like fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and more.