If you’re one of the millions of people who experience chronic pain, you might be looking for alternatives to popping pain pills. I really prefer to try a holistic approach to wellness and for pain relief, there are actually changes to your diet that can make a difference. 

The latest buzz word for pain relief is CBD oil, a natural alternative to pain pills, but in addition, science has proven that there are certain foods that are capable of alleviating nearly any form of chronic pain.

Can Diet Really Help to Heal Chronic Pain?

There’s a lot of skepticism on the topic, but the skeptics are typically the people who are unwilling to give up french fries and pizza in order to treat pain. A study from Harvard Health suggests that diet does play a role in pain management.  

The findings point to the fact that "the foods you eat (and don’t) can determine how well your body fights painful inflammation...The strongest scientific evidence suggests foods rich in a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols can have an anti-inflammatory effect that helps soothe and prevent painful flare-ups."

Changing up your diet might not cure you entirely, but it can definitely help. By incorporating these 10 foods into your diet, you can help to alleviate pain and discomfort anywhere throughout the body.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain a large amount of magnesium. The body requires magnesium for many reasons, including migraine prevention and fending off osteoporosis. There is a common myth surrounding pumpkin seeds, claiming that they help to stop leg cramps at night. This isn’t actually true, but even so, pumpkin seeds are great for pain prevention.

Cold Water Fish

We all know that cold-water fish, such as salmon, is good for the heart. It is also helpful for relieving tenderness of the joints, especially for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This is true for almost all types of cold-water fish, including tuna, mackerel, and sardines.

The main reason for this is that these types of fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Tilapia, on the other hand, is high in Omega-6 fatty acids. These should be avoided since they can actually increase inflammation and cause more pain in the long run.

Blueberries

Many of us enjoy eating blueberries for their tart sweetness. But did you know that eating blueberries can combat inflammation and soothe pain? Similar to most types of fruit, blueberries are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols. The same goes for strawberries and oranges.

Ginger

Ginger is a staple ingredient in ancient medical practices used by cultures around the world.  This root can help to alleviate nausea by soothing the stomach. But that’s not all it can do; ginger can also fight several forms of pain. This includes pain caused by achy joints, sore muscles, and even menstrual cramps.

To start taking advantage of ginger’s pain-fighting properties, purchase ginger capsules from your local natural foods store. The other option is to incorporate fresh ginger into your diet. Add it into an Asian-inspired stir fry or steep it in a tea. Turmeric is another root that offers pain-fighting powers.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you cook with olive oil, you’re already a step ahead of the game when it comes to eating a pain-relieving diet. Virgin and extra virgin olive oil contain a compound called oleocanthal, which works similarly to ibuprofen. It also contains a compound called lubricin, which keeps the joints lubricated and prevents the break down of cartilage.

In order to get the full effect of olive oil, try to keep the cooking temperature below 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be difficult, especially if you tend to fry your foods, but it offers the most health benefits. Once olive oil increases more than 400 degrees, it breaks down and loses many of its benefits.

Mint

Not only is mint refreshing, but it is also pain-relieving. The soothing nature of mint makes it perfect for relieving cramps and calming the entire body. Brazilian tea mint has even been dubbed an effective pain killer.

Wine

It makes sense that wine makes the list of top foods for pain relief since wine cures everything, right? Surprisingly enough, it’s not actually the alcohol in wine that makes it a solution for treating pain.

It actually has more to do with a compound called resveratrol, which is found in the skins of red grapes. Resveratrol specifically helps with alleviated back pain by calming down the swelling of the disks found in the lower back. This doesn’t mean you should drink a full bottle of wine every evening. Try sticking to one glass of red wine with dinner.

Soybeans

It is thought that soybeans can help to suppress pain sensitivity. Researchers aren’t exactly sure what compounds within these magical beans help to do this. They only know that adding soybeans to a diet can reduce pain in some patients.

Cherries

Several research studies have concluded that tart cherries are pain-relieving powerhouses.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but they think it has to do with the numerous antioxidants found in cherries. Cherries also contain anti-inflammatory compounds, helping to relieve the inflammation that causes chronic pain.

Dairy (and Sun)

Vitamin D has been proven to lower the risk of osteoporosis. It can also relieve pain caused by tendonitis. The best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is to spend a healthy amount of time in the sun. If this isn’t a viable option, it’s also possible to consume Vitamin D through dairy products and fatty fish.

If you’re still feeling doubts about the relationship between diet and pain, consider experimenting for yourself. To go a step further, learn more about CBD oil to decide if adding it to your diet is an option for you. Then, check with a doctor to see if it’s safe for you.  Regardless of what route you take, be sure to cut back on the processed foods that aren’t doing you any favors. Switch those items out for more wholesome foods, like the ones mentioned in this list. 

Main Image: Kale and Mango Salad