Inflammation is a natural process the body uses to protect itself and to promote healing. During the inflammation process, your body increases its production of white blood cells. Chronic inflammation, however, can damage the body.
Living with continual inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected areas. It can also increase your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. There are several ways you can improve your nutrition and decrease pain and inflammation, however.
Are you ready to say goodbye once and for all to your chronic aches and pains? If you’re nodding your head yes, keep reading to learn more about how physical therapy and attention to nutrition can help!
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response when it’s trying to heal or protect itself. This, of course, is usually a good thing! This is why some people choose to feel their pain and ride it out instead of grabbing an over the counter NSAID. However, inflammation is harmful when it becomes a chronic condition. Pain and inflammation are often connected.
Your immune system can naturally respond to injury, ailment, or other harm through inflammation. If you have an infection, wound, tissue damage, or buildup of toxins in your body, the immune response is triggered to deal with it. Without inflammation, injuries wouldn’t be able to heal; however, if this process goes on for too long, Harvard Health, states that it can lead to a variety of health ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and even some kinds of cancer.
If you experience persistent pain that is keeping you from living life as you normally would, it is wise to contact a physical therapist as soon as possible, as it may mean that the inflammation has become chronic.
The importance of physical therapy and nutrition
Traditionally, chronic inflammation has been treated through bed rest and medication. However, a lack of exercise can make inflammation worse, as it constricts joints and causes muscles to stiffen. Although it might be hard to make yourself get up and move when you’re in pain, it’s normally the best option.
Additionally, medications come with a whole slew of side effects, some of which can be dangerous and/or habit-forming. Luckily, pain and inflammation can be treated in much easier and healthier ways – such as diet and physical therapy!
Why choose physical therapy?
Physical therapy, combined with good nutritional habits, can greatly reduce or even eliminate your pain and inflammation. The American Physical Therapy Association states that the connection between pain and nutrition is strong enough that nutritional screening is often recommended.
A physical therapist can provide nutritional guidance along with creating an exercise program that targets and reduces the pain and inflammation you’ve been experiencing. A physical therapist might even recommend activities such as swimming or simple stretching to increase joint flexibility and range of motion.
Good nutrition along with a physical therapy treatment plan can help you manage or even eliminate chronic pain by increasing the strength in certain muscles and improving joint stability.
How can nutrition provide pain relief?
A few foods that can cause inflammation and should be avoided or limited include the following:
- Soda – Drinking water or tea in place of soda will not only help reduce pain and inflammation but may also help you shed a few pounds. Soda can increase levels of uric acid. This often causes an increase in inflammation and even insulin resistance.
- Fried foods – Eat your veggies raw, steamed, or baked for the most health benefits. Everything from fried chicken to deep-fried veggies can contribute to inflammation.
- Refined carbohydrates – Pasta, pastries, white bread, and white flour are all refined carbs that should be eliminated or eaten rarely. Refined carbs include grains that have had most of the fiber and nutrients taken out.
- Red meats – Protein builds muscle and cartilage. Red meat, especially meats that are processed, can lead to increased inflammation. Healthy, lean protein is a crucial component when creating a diet to reduce pain and inflammation. Chicken is often considered neutral, while many types of fish fight pain and inflammation in the body.
Just like there are plenty of foods to avoid because they cause inflammation, there are plenty you can start to incorporate into your diet to fight or decrease inflammation! Some of them are:
- Berries – Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are all good choices. Berries have an abundance of antioxidants that can eliminate inflammation.
- Fatty Fish – Wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel are great sources of Omega-3s, which can fight inflammation. They may even limit stiffness in the joints that is sometimes associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Olive oil – Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that tastes great on salads and in cooked meals, and it can help reduce inflammation. Make sure to select olive oil that is extra virgin in order to receive the most health benefits.
- Green Tea – Green tea is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. When preparing green tea, use water that’s not higher in temperature than 160 degrees since boiling water may destroy many of the antioxidants.
- Leafy green vegetables – Almost all fruits and vegetables contain what is called phytonutrients that can help fight inflammation, so pick up some kale or spinach to go into a salad the next time you’re in the produce section.
It’s time to get your health back on track
Instead of relying on surgery or pain medication, consider improving your diet or beginning a healthy physical therapy program customized to meet your specific needs. Put together, these two things can seriously change your life, and help you to live pain-free.