Chronic Pain and Diet

A woman with dark skin and dark curly hair clutching at her back whilst seated ona lounge. She is wearing a maroon long sleeved top and blue jeans and she is wincing in pain

 

Chronic pain can be worsened by underlying inflammation. There are a few key nutrients that can help to reduce inflammation and help to manage chronic pain.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain many antioxidants which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Getting in a wide variety of different coloured fruit and veg is helpful to get in a variety of different beneficial bioactive compounds which can help to fight off the inflammation which can contribute to chronic pain. Aim for 5 serves of veg and 2 servings of fruit every day. 

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to help with inflammation in the body. Focus on including mostly unsaturated fats in your diet, and limit your intake of saturated fats and trans fats (which come mostly from butter, animal fat, pastries and fried foods). The unsaturated fats that we should focus on include foods such as:

  • Salmon, tuna and other fatty fish 
  • Avocado 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Olive oil
  • Olives 

Foods to Reduce or Limit

Some foods can make inflammation worse. Reducing our intake of these foods can help to manage our inflammation and the symptoms that can be related to it, such as chronic pain. Foods to reduce/limit your intake of include: 

  • Foods high in saturated or trans fats 
  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta, cakes and biscuits 
  • Sugar-sweetened foods such as lollies and soft drinks 

Working with your GP and an allied health team (Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist and Physiotherapist) can help to manage your chronic pain and improve your quality of life!

Written By (APD) Dietitian Georgia Volz