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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

Controlling Inflammation with Food

Contributing Author: Ross, Steven D.C, F.A.S.B.E, D.A.A.P.M.

Ross StevenDr. Steven Ross, President and Co-Founder of The Institute For Integrative Medicine. The IFIM is an evidence based educational institution focusing on teaching the integrative practitioner the evidence based medicine, business, marketing acumen and personal development needed to succeed in their practices. Dr. Ross has been practicing Integrative and Functional Diagnostic Medicine since 1982. He maintains an active practice in the southern California while consulting with patients and doctors worldwide. He is the author of Curing the Cause and Preventing Disease; a guide not only for patients seeking a new and scientific method of treatment but, also for health care professionals interested in incorporating evidence based treatment plans in helping their patients achieve optimum health without the use of dangerous drugs.

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Can the Foods You Eat Make a Difference in Chronic Pain? Yes!


Inflammation is defined as a localized reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, or infection. Its symptoms include pain, swelling, red coloration of the area, and sometimes loss of movement or function. We commonly think of inflammation as the painful component of arthritis.

Medical Treatments

Common medical treatments for inflammatory conditions include rest, exercise, stretching, and medications designed to reduce the inflammation and control the pain. These medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid medications, and perhaps ultimately joint replacement surgery. NSAIDs are widely used as the initial form of therapy.

For the most part, NSAIDs are tolerated fairly well, although they can irritate the stomach and lead to ulcers.

Diet and Inflammation

The foods we eat play an important role in how we feel. Loading up on junk foods and fast foods tends to make us feel worse because of the unhealthy fats used in the cooking processes. Excessive consumption of sugars and refined starchy carbohydrates like white flour can worsen inflammation. Switch your diet to whole fruits, vegetables, and lots of oily, cold water fish.

Nightshade Plants

While whole fruits and vegetables are important for their vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants, some vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant may actually make inflammation worse. These vegetables are part of the nightshade family of plants and contain a chemical alkaloid, which is an irritant.

Essential Fatty Acids

The right type of fats in our diets has a positive impact on pain and inflammation. Omega-3 oils found in oily, cold water fish, walnuts, and flax and pumpkin seeds reduce inflammation. Supplementing the Omega-3 oils with flax oil or fish oil capsules may be beneficial. Add some vitamin E as well.

Water and Dehydration

A significant factor in pain is dehydration. When we do not drink enough water, we hurt and any inflammation we may have feels worse. Make sure to drink at least 60 to 80 ounces of water every day. Avoid heavy caffeine and alcohol consumption because they contain diuretics that will cause the body to lose more water.

Delayed Food Allergies

Many people have delayed reactions to foods that increase inflammation and pain. These type of “food allergies” are not really allergies like hay fever, but they do involve the immune system and can make pain and inflammation much worse. Frequently, the underlying problem is a result of faulty digestion or excessive consumption of any particular food. Most any food consumed more than four days a week can be suspected as a possible allergen. Some of the more common allergic foods are milk and dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, beef, yeast, and soy. Even healthy foods can cause problems. Blood tests may be performed, or elimination diets may be undertaken, to determine the allergic foods.

Changing Our Diets

The common Western high-fat, high-sugar diet is likely to increase inflammation, while a healthy diet low in sugar and consisting of whole foods can actually help decrease inflammation and pain. Choose low-fat protein sources combined with fruits, vegetables, and greens. Apples and red onions are especially great choices because they contain quercetin, a powerful and natural anti-inflammatory agent. A diet like this may help decrease inflammation and sensitivity. Avoid sugars and junk food whenever possible.