If you are dealing with chronic pain or inflammation in your life, proper nutrition can play a key role in helping you find relief. Diet is an important part of any occupational therapy regimen because eating the right foods can help your body recover from many different conditions. Eating right, paired with reduced stress and proper exercise, exercise, can help in correcting inflammation and chronic pain. To find out more about how our nutritional services can benefit you, contact Hands for Living today and schedule a consultation with one of our occupational or hand therapists.
How does inflammation occur?
Inflammation is part of the body’s healing process, as it is an immune response to harm or sickness. If you’re feeling pain, there is probably inflammation at that location, as the two often go hand-in-hand. If you have an infection, a wound, tissue damage, or a buildup of toxins in your body, the immune response is triggered in order to initiate the healing process.
Without inflammation, injuries would not be able to heal completely; however, if the inflammatory response goes on too long, it can cause chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a cause for worry, and your occupational or hand therapist will want to help you get it under control. Without treatment, chronic inflammation can lead to much worse outcomes, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.
The traditional methods of dealing with chronic inflammation include rest and medication. Traditionally, primary physicians would even recommend limiting your amounts of exercise. However, a lack of exercise can leave you worse off in the long run than doing the simple stretches and exercises that a therapist can teach you. Additionally, medications can often carry a host of nasty side effects and could potentially be habit-forming. The good news about treating pain and inflammation with diet is that it’s all natural!
How to maintain an anti-inflammatory diet:
Many patients who adopt an anti-inflammatory diet report lessened symptoms of pain and inflammation. You can help speed up the healing process as the body purifies itself during the inflammation process by switching to a diet that complements the removal of toxins. There are three basic components to an anti-inflammatory diet:
- More vegetables. One of the best ways to reduce inflammation is to increase your veggie intake. This diet is most successful if you eat up to nine servings a day, with the vegetables preferably served raw. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli are some the best options. It is okay to substitute fruits for a couple of your servings, in order to break it up, but vegetables should be your main ingredient for the most part.
- Less red meat. It is best to avoid red meat altogether in an anti-inflammatory diet, but if you must add some in there, it should be very scarce. One small piece of steak, one time per week, should be your maximum limit. The proteins in red meat require extra work from your kidneys to process; therefore, eating a lot of it will slow down your healing process. The good news is that chicken and fish are just fine for an anti-inflammatory diet. Enjoy them with all of those servings of vegetables!
- Less dairy and grains. In order to strengthen your body’s immune response as much as possible, you’ll want to try and avoid simple carbs and sugars completely. That means no pastries, no donuts, and no white breads. Dairy products should also be extremely limited, so be mindful of serving very little cheese or milk with anything. Whole grains such as barley, oats, brown rice, and wheat are best when practicing an anti-inflammatory diet.
If you stick to the diet listed above, you should see your pain and inflammation symptoms start to significantly reduce. You can also combat chronic inflammation by maintaining a healthy body weight, getting daily exercise, and learning how to manage your stress.
To learn more about how we can help you abide by a strict nutrition plan to decrease inflammation and boost overall wellness, contact our Lynnwood, WA office today to schedule a consultation with an occupational or hand therapist. We would be happy to speak with you!