Chronic pain affects 116 million American adults. That’s more than a third of the US population. And while pain pills reduce suffering, they can be addictive and produce side effects. Worse, they often fail to eliminate the true cause of the pain. But there is an alternative, and it’s right in your kitchen. Certain foods ease aches by fighting inflammation, blocking pain signals, and even healing underlying disease.
The first thing you have to do is quit the junk food that riles up your body’s pain system. The typical American diet is heavy on foods that promote inflammation, including highly processed foods and refined carbs. No fruit, vegetable, or herb by itself can alleviate your pain if you don’t change the pattern of your diet to reduce processed food and increase whole foods. To fight pain naturally, try these five foods:
- Blueberries, cherries and dark fruits– studies have found that eating these dark fruits can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and recuperate strength faster. Plus, tart cherries have the added benefit of melatonin so your body can get better rest post-workout.
- Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables– you know they’re full of nutrients, but they also help improve the metabolic process, reduce inflammation and fight free radicals that can slow the recovery process. Research also suggests that leafy greens can lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, after training.
- Cod and salmon – fish is full of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. They are among the best for recovery since they have anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3’s have also been shown to fight pain and reduce muscle soreness.
- Almonds and nuts– nuts can help accelerate repair of damaged tissue. Almonds are an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids that have performed very well in aiding recuperation after intense exercise. Brazil nuts are another powerhouse choice since they contain a trifecta of the minerals selenium, magnesium and zinc, which are essential for hormone balance and recovery.
- Cinnamon– a study of women martial arts athletes found that taking 3 grams of cinnamon powder with food helped significantly reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.