How to Eat Foods That Ease Pain

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined, according to the NIH. Eighty percent of Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime. More than 9 in 10 adults will experience some form of headache in their life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 67 million Americans ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by 2030. Chronic pain is the most common cause for long-term disability. Self-care is identified as a key component in managing pain. More and more research is proving the therapeutic effects of food. There are foods that may be beneficial in preventing and easing pain.


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    Spice it up. Spices can add flavor to your foods, but many of them also contain pain-fighting phytochemicals. Turmeric, curry, mustard, and ginger, all have components that can help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a major contributor of pain. Other anti-inflammatory foods include chili peppers. They are filled with the phytochemical, capsaicin, which gives food a hot, spicy flavor. The spicier the food, the more capsaicin, and the more the pain-reducing benefit. Researchers have also studied topical capsaicin ointments and found benefit. However, exercise caution when using these topical products, as they can cause irritation to the application site.
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    Feed on fats. Healthy fats such as olive oil contain properties that have been found to reduce inflammation. The compounds oleocanthal and hydroxytyrosol are found in olive oil and may help fight inflammation. Researchers have founds that oleocanthal's anti-inflammatory properties are similar to that of ibuprofen. Other fats that can decrease inflammation are omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are found in fish. Good sources of omega-3 are salmon, herring, and tuna. In general, saltwater fish contain higher amounts of omega-3 than freshwater fish. Seeds such as flax seeds and chia are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
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    Make meals colorful. Foods that are bright red or dark green, for examples, contain important antioxidants and phytochemicals to reduce pain. Red grapes contain a compound called resveratrol. Besides it being a powerful anti-aging agent, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that resveratrol protected against cartilage damage that causes back pain. Resveratrol blocks the enzymes that contribute to tissue degeneration which can result in pain. The dark colored blackberry contains salicylic acid. This is the same active ingredient in aspirin. Bright yellow in color, pineapples contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps reduce inflammation. The antioxidant, anthocyanin, gives cherries their rich color and works to block inflammation. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed the reduction of a major marker of inflammation by 25% in people who ate a bowl of cherries for breakfast.

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Categories: Food Selection and Storage