Does food affect pain? When an individual is suffering with chronic pain, establishing a nutritionally sound diet can often fall low on the priorities list. But can the foods, spices and drinks we have daily reduce or prevent pain?

Test your knowledge. Are the following statements are true or false?

1. What you eat does not affect your health.

2. Eating a diet high in starch and sugar sends messages to your DNA that say “age fast, store fat and be inflamed.”

3. Tart cherries are a powerful inflammation inhibitor and can help people suffering with pain.

4. Adding spices such as turmeric, cayenne and ginger to your diet can decrease pain.

5. Many medical professionals are not completely up to date on advances in nutrition.

6. One of the best fruits you can eat is mango, especially for chronic sinusitis and asthma.

7. Small decisions don’t have much of an impact.

Here are the answers:

1. False. Food and nutrition are critical not only in the treatment of disease, but also in the prevention of disease.

2. True.  This is especially evident in people with type II diabetes. They actually do age faster, tend to be overweight and also tend to experience inflammation, as evidenced by the high prevalence of heart disease and cancer when compared to their non-diabetic counterparts. Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits sends good information to your genes that say “age slowly, burn fat and be less inflamed.”

3. True. For many people, pain is the result of inflammation. Tart cherries and other anti-inflammatory foods like cold-water fish, purslane, flax, chia seed, and anything high in omega-3 fats can help reduce pain.

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

4. True. Although these spices have been found to reduce pain, individuals should gauge their own reactions and realize that just taking a few supplements or eating specific foods may not be enough.

5. True.  Primary physicians and other medical professionals may not completely understand or support your nutrition plan. You may need to seek out a nutritionist.

6. False. Eating pineapple, along with bananas and raisins and other foods high in potassium, have specific nutrients that may help with pain. Pineapple contains bromelain, which is an enzyme found to be a great complementary treatment for chronic sinusitis and asthma.

7. False. Even small decisions about food choices can have a great impact and lead to more significant changes.

Want to learn more? Check out these links:

Duke Integrative MedicineIntegrative TherapiesNaturopathic Health Clinic, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America

If you’ve had success changing your diet or eating certain foods, please leave us a comment.