This guest post was graciously written by Dr. John Dempster, a leader in Functional Medicine. He is currently hosting the esteemed Mental Wellness Summit with some of the world’s leading health practitioners.
Pain is the most commonly treated condition by doctors today. We ALL know someone who suffers from a chronic pain condition, many of us likely experiencing it currently or have at some in our lives. In fact, pain killer prescriptions are currently the most frequently prescribed medication – and there does not appear to be any sign of this trend slowing. Yet, most people continue to eat the worst foods for pain.
While many people associate musculoskeletal pain with Arthritis primarily, there are literally dozens of diagnoses that can result in joint and muscle pain. To put it simply, pain = inflammation. Much like a campfire needs fuel to burn, so do inflammatory processes in our body. The real question is what causes inflammation?
While most doctors furiously prescribe pain killer medications to suppress pain-signaling pathways to their suffering patients, this does not necessarily treat the root causes. Yes, these meds are necessary in a certain time and place. Sadly, many doctors are slow to address the one major link to many cases of joint and muscle pain – FOOD.
As Hippocrates famously said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. For many of those suffering with chronic joint and muscle pain, this famous phrase is highly pertinent. In fact, I have literally seen hundreds of patients reduce muscle, joint and fibromyalgia type pain just by removing the following inflammatory foods:
Want to add fuel to the fire? Eat sugar and/or highly processed foods that contain lots of sugar (REMINDER – processed foods don’t always taste sweet, beware!). It’s one of the worst foods for pain in your joints and muscles. Nothing damages the digestive tract like sugar. The medical community is starting to agree on the fact that chronic inflammation often starts in your gut, the biggest part of your immune system. You may remember being told “you are what you eat”. I believe we need to take it one step further – “We are what we absorb.”
I’m not saying I never enjoy a glass of wine or fine tequila on the rocks, but moderation is everything. Keep in mind that too much alcohol can damage your gut flora, promote yeast overgrowth, and hinder your body’s ability to detoxify. Like most things in life, the dose is the poison. Alcohol by nature is a sugar molecule combined with a fat molecule. If that doesn’t trigger an ‘aha reaction’ – refer above to #1. Alcohol ranks as one of the top worst foods for pain.
Refined or not, grains are very hard to digest and can greatly tax the GI tract, creating inflammation that leads to Leaky Gut Syndrome. The problem turns inflammatory especially if you are gluten sensitive (double negative impact). Add to this, the high levels of phytic acid and lectins in grains can hinder your ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals. Granted, not everyone reacts the same to grains, however many people ARE reacting to grains but are completely unaware. Grains are some of the worst foods for pain. The best test on the planet currently to understand if this is you is a simple genetic test.
4) Refined vegetable oil
Canola, soy, and corn oils (often referred to as vegetable oil) are largely genetically modified. These oils are well documented to contribute to inflammation and pain. These oils are frequently used to cook with in restaurants and added to processed foods. Even though these oils are advertised as ‘healthy’ – DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE. They rank as one of the 5 worst foods for pain. Leave these evil-doers alone.
5) Pasteurized Dairy
Recent research has show that the majority of people with gluten sensitivity also have trouble with dairy. The cows are fed chemicals and gluten containing grains. The milk has added hormones, and when it is preserved, the process creates a casein (dairy) protein that can mimic gluten. In addition, the process of pasteurization affects the molecular structure of the nutritional content that is found in raw, non-pasteurized milk. Like processed oils, pasteurized dairy is best left on the grocery shelf because pasteurized dairy is one of the worst foods for pain.