Inflammation is a natural process in the body that defends against disease; however, chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even depression. Knowing this, it comes as no surprise that an anti-inflammatory diet is often considered an integrative approach to pain managementâ€”along with exercise, stress management, and alternative therapies like acupuncture.
You can find information about the anti-inflammatory diet in numerous books and websitesâ€”including mbg’s Functional Nutrition Programâ€”but in general, it involves avoiding all processed foods and meats and increasing nutrient-dense plant-based foods. The idea is to replace sugary, refined foods with whole, nutrient-rich foods. The specifics of the diet will vary depending on the severity of your pain and your overall health, but in its strictest form, the diet may involve eliminating the following: simple carbs like sugars and most grains (including rice, corn, and wheat), dairy, and red meat. Instead, you focus on whole fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins like fish and chicken in moderation.