What Should You Eat For Chronic Pain? | Nutrition for Chronic Pain

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Perhaps you’ve had pain for greater than three months, and you’re not sure how you can support nutritionally? Fortunately, there is so much high-quality evidence to support how diet therapy can make a profound difference in chronic pain.

Chronic pain is associated with pro-inflammatory states which are linked to peripheral and central sensitization. This is when the brain perceives that there’s pain, and even a heightened sense of pain with very little stimuli, yet there is no tissue damage.

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Additionally, the mitochondria, which is essentially the powerhouse of our cells, are also associated with chronic pain. The damage to the mitochondria can be driven by how we eat. Consuming pro-inflammatory foods, such as the Standard American Diet—the Western Diet—which is rich in sugary foods, alcohol, processed meats, and enriched grains, can contribute to inflammation and even damage the mitochondria. Therefore, with the Standard American Diet, there becomes an imbalance between our essential fatty acids, which we need for optimal health, and pro-inflammatory markers. That’s where a specific diet therapy comes in.

The first thing we want to do is address the inflammatory markers. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best and well-researched diets that has been shown to decrease inflammation. Think of a diet comprised of fish, legumes, olive oil, low in grains, and high in vegetables – also referred to as an anti-inflammatory diet.

5 ways that you address your chronic pain through diet

1) Decreasing Inflammation

The best way to do this is through an elimination diet. Eliminate the potentially pro-inflammatory foods for at least three weeks and then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time. These include gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, coffee, tea, corn, soy, processed meats, red meat, chocolate, tea, coffee, and shellfish. If you don’t want to do a full elimination diet, you can do a modified version—eliminate gluten and dairy, for example. These two definitely can play a role in inflammation, and specifically chronic pain. If you’re eating a lot of sugar, this is also a great place to start. Sugar is a massive pro-inflammatory agent, so decreasing sugar in your diet would be very beneficial.

 2) Calorie Reduction

When we are consuming fewer calories than required by our basal metabolic rate, then we can not only increase our brain’s ability to generate new neurons by decreasing free radicals, but we can also increase ATP, the energy source of the cells, and we can increase our number of mitochondria. These all could play a huge role in inflammation and pain.

3) Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, can help turn on genes that help cells survive by reducing inflammation. There are many different ways to include intermittent fasting in your life. Fasting from seven o’clock at night until seven o’clock in the morning would be a 12-hour fast. You can slowly increase that to a 16 hour fast, or you can do 24-hour fast two days a week. There are many options to suit your lifestyle and it is strongly recommended to start slowly.

4) Specific Nutrient Supplementation

Omega 3’s, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B-12, and magnesium have all been shown to impact chronic pain. There are other nutrients that also help specifically with chronic pelvic pain, such as vitamin E, B1, and B3. 

5) Gut Health

Seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut. If there is an inflammation issue, we should start in the gut. So, do you need to include prebiotics, probiotics, or do you need a specific gut health protocol? If you are not managing gut health properly, then you are not managing chronic pain and inflammation well, either. 

These are just a few of the ways that we can use diet to influence chronic pain.  When we have that central sensitization of the nervous systems, our brain still perceives that there’s pain, yet there is likely no tissue damage. Our nervous system is heightened, and we can begin to associate chronic pain with pro-inflammatory markers. We can use diet to decrease inflammation and optimize our micronutrient, antioxidant, and phytonutrient profile to begin to bring our body back into a state of balance and healing. 

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What do your gut bacteria do? | 10 Functions of Gut Bacteria | Microbiome

Everyone talks about the microbiome and gut bacteria, but why is it so important? What are the actual functions of the bacteria?

Before we get into the 10 functions of your gut bacteria, let’s talk a little bit about the anatomy. The small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet of our intestine, should be a relatively sterile environment. The large intestine, however, is where we house the majority of the bacteria, especially the beneficial bacteria. When we get something like a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), it is in essence where the bacteria have now been relocated and overpopulated into the small intestine where it is not supposed to be. We have trillions of bacteria in our gut, and we have a thousand different species. There are also 5,000 different bacterial strains. With that said, everyone is unique, however, there are combinations of collections of bacteria that are present in healthy individuals.

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10 Functions of Gut Bacteria

So, let’s get into the 10 functions of gut bacteria and why it is so important that you have an optimal balance.

  1. Nervous System Modification

This is a really powerful function of our gut bacteria. We want to think of three key neurotransmitters which are essentially are chemical messengers that are formed from the gut bacteria.

  • Serotonin: This is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in our gut.
  • Dopamine: Fifty percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, is located in our gut.
  • GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid): This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases feelings of fear and anxiety and produces a feeling of calm.

All of these are associated with this amazing gut-brain connection.

2. Breaks Down Food Compounds

Essentially, the gut bacteria metabolize the food and medications that we consume.

3. Pathogen Resistance

Think of our gut bacteria as one of our protective mechanisms. It will protect us from pathogens and toxins.

4. Protection Against Any Epithelial Injury

It protects against infections, just like it does with toxins and pathogens.

5. Bone Density Modulation

The gut bacteria can influence our bone density.

6. Promotion of Fat Storage

The gut bacteria can influence the hormones that store fat. Additionally, the Standard American Diet (SAD), that is, the western diet, is influencing gut bacteria, which has been linked to obesity.

7. Immune System Stimulation

Seventy percent of our immune system lies within our gut. So when we have optimal gut bacteria, this gut bacteria is influencing how our immune system responds to foreign invaders, toxins, and pathogens that they might be exposed to.

8. Promotion of Angiogenesis

When we have more blood vessels in the gut, this can be very powerful for future advances in treatments for gut infections.

9. Biosynthesis of Vitamins and Amino Acids

Water-soluble vitamins are plentiful in the diet, but also can be synthesized by the gut.

10. Metabolism of Therapeutics

This is ultimately how we process our medications and supplements. So keep in mind, that if you are planning to take things, you have to make sure that your gut is optimized so that you can metabolize these appropriately.

Now that you know the functions of gut bacteria, you know how important it is to optimize it. You can do that through numerous things, and you can see some other videos for different suggestions to optimize your gut health. But, we do want to think about everything from prebiotics, the fiber that the probiotics feed on, probiotics whether that’s through fermented food or supplementation, and then, of course, stress management, a high-fiber diet with 25 to 35 grams a day, drinking plenty of water, eating a whole, natural food diet to ensure that you are optimizing the diversity of your gut—that is one of the key things that your gut loves, diversity.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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IS YOUR GUT PREVENTING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS?

Did you wonder how your gut and your gut bacteria can be impacting your weight loss? Research proves time and time again that the Standard American Diet (SAD diet) is something that promotes inflammation in our gut and changes the colonization of our gut bacteria and gut flora over time. Even as simple as one energy-rich meal such as a Big Mac and French fries can release lipopolysaccharides, an endotoxin, into the bloodstream, contributing to this immune response.

The second thing that we know for sure is that when you are in an inflamed state, your hormonal, lymphatic, and GI system will be greatly impacted. Therefore, it will affect your ability to lose weight.

In essence, you have to optimize gut health, balance the bacteria, and feed the gut good bugs, what it needs and craves, which is not the Standard American Diet. I’d like to go over five key things that you want to think about for optimizing your gut health so that you can lose weight.

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1) Decreasing Omega-6’s and Increasing Omega-3’s

Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oil, canola oil, and palm oil commonly found in packaged and processed foods. Even healthy food can contain these ingredients. These omega 6’s can impact your overall health and contribute to inflammation, therefore your gut. Not only do you want to decrease your omega 6’s, but you also want to increase your omega 3’s. Think of your fatty fishes, walnuts, and flaxseed. All of these can be beneficial and working on increasing these healthy fats will have a positive effect on your gut flora. Make sure to prioritize getting healthy fat with every meal.

2) Include Fiber

You want to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.  Most Americans fall short of this. If you are eating a high plant-based diet, and you’re getting some grains, seeds, and nuts in; you should be well on your way to getting the appropriate amount of fiber.  If you’re not, then supplementation would be advised.  Think of your fiber as your prebiotics. In order for us to have the positive effect of the beneficial bacteria of probiotics, they have to feed on the prebiotics.

3) Include Fermented Foods

That could be fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir. You do want to make sure that they contain active live cultures that have beneficial probiotic. If you are not consuming fermented foods regularly, you could consider supplementation to ensure you’re populating your gut with good bacteria.

If you already have existing gut issues, consult with a functional medicine practitioner to ensure you are taking the right one at the right time.

4) Eat More Plants

You want to make sure you have 60-70% of your plate coming from plants. This does not mean to exclude your healthy lean proteins, it just means eat more plants. Fill your plate with a variety of colors because this is exactly what the gut feeds on. This is what it wants and craves. Make sure that you are eating enough variety, because the more diversity in your foods that you have, the better your microbiome diversity will be.

5) Reduce Stress

Stress is one of the biggest drivers for gut bacteria changes. Not only is it well known that it causes inflammation in the body, but it is impacting the gut flora. Even just the thoughts that you have can impact your gut bacteria. Begin to identify what stressors you have and how can you manage stress in your life. You’re not going to get rid of stress, but how can you become more mindful and grounded? How can you respond with clarity and creativity? Use different techniques to be able to cultivate this in your life, so that you can manage the stressors that come your way.

So there you have it, five different ways that you can begin to influence your gut bacteria, microbiome, and 70% of your immune system in order to optimize weight loss. If you’re a person that has been dealing with weight gain, and you recognize that there are some gut issues, start here! It is imperative to have optimal gut health for everything else in your body to function well.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

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