Unfortunately, a lot of us suffer from musculoskeletal pain — in fact, there’s more than 10,000 GP consultations for the problem recorded across the UK on an annual basis. Long-term chronic pain conditions can sometimes develop from this issue, including osteoporosis, back pain, and osteoarthritis.
Although sufferers of these conditions may never find a cure, they may find that gentle exercise and medication can help. In addition to these, dietary changes can also help, read on as we explore more…
Introducing high-protein foods
Dietary advisors recommend that sufferers of chronic pain should follow a high-protein based diet. According to one paper, four reasons for this are:
- The body’s pain relievers derive from proteins — Amino acids make their way into the bloodstream through the intestine (where what you eat is absorbed). They then act as building blocks for compounds that help with pain relief.
- Muscle-cartilage needs protein to grow — Amino acids are needed to build muscle which can go on to protect your bones and build strength.
- The activation of glucagon — Glucagon increases blood glucose levels and blocks glucose storage as fat. This can prevent a rise in insulin levels, carbohydrate cravings, and pain flares.
- Decreasing inflammation — Protein containing foods such as fish and green vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties, lowering experiences of pain.
Not sure how to increase your protein intake? Add foods such as beef, fish, and eggs to your plate to increase levels of protein in your diet. For vegan diets, make sure you’re eating enough pulses (lentil, beans, and soya products). There are protein supplements out there too in the form of drinks and snack bars.
Introducing omega-3 fatty acids
One food group that all of us should be adding to our diets is omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, they’re not made by the body, so we need to get them from our diet.
Research suggests that omega-3 can relieve musculoskeletal pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Again, this is an anti-inflammatory which deals with the issues mentioned earlier.
Wondering how to add omega-3 into your daily diet? Omega-3 can be found in oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), calamari, olive oil, and some plants and nuts. A mixture of these things should ensure that you’re getting enough of the fatty acid.
Introducing more vitamins
As we all know, having enough vitamins in our diet is important. This is because each type of vitamin has their own benefits that keep us healthy. But some musculoskeletal conditions are a result of vitamin deficiencies, and certain vitamins can keep pain at bay.
Consider vitamin D for example. This type of vitamin helps with the absorption of calcium, which is essential for bone growth. Eggs are a great source of vitamin D and are easy to incorporate into your diet. Another way to up your intake is with safe levels of sun exposure.
Although not widely talked about, vitamin K has a vital role to play in cartilage metabolism. This type of vitamin is also a promoter of cell survival, with both important processes in the body that can prevent musculoskeletal issues. Get your intake of vitamin K through green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and beans.
Then there’s vitamin B. One benefit of this vitamin is that it keeps amino acid homocysteine under control. High levels of this could be linked to lower bone density and therefore musculoskeletal issues. Increase your intake of vitamin B through chicken, turkey, fish, oats, and more.
Keeping an eye on carbohydrate and calorie intake
By monitoring carbohydrate and calorie intake, you can also better manage musculoskeletal problems.
When you consume food that is unhealthy, or overeat, you end up consuming excess calories. This goes on to lead to weight gain over time if your diet doesn’t change. This can then lead to excess weight carried around the waist and obesity — both of which can make musculoskeletal pain worse. This is due to extra pressure on joints and inflammation.
What is inflammation? In general, it’s part of the body’s immune response to fight infection. But, there are cases when inflammation doesn’t shut down — this becomes chronic inflammation. It is this which is the underlying cause of many diseases, health problems, and pain. It can also be caused by eating food containing refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and trans fats.
Maintaining and lowering weight can therefore be achieved if you better monitor the number of calories you’re consuming and only eating the appropriate amount of each food. Doing so can then help to reduce the effects of musculoskeletal issues. In fact, one study found that weight reduction of more than 10% has the potential to lead to important changes in pain and function.
As we can see, changes to your diet can reduce musculoskeletal pain in so many ways. However, always speak to your GP and nutritionist before changing your diet and for more advice on how the foods you eat can ease chronic pains.
This article was researched and created by Voltarol, who are specialists in arthritic pain relief.