A wholesome diet also helps prevent pain-aggravating weight gain and boosts your energy levels and mood so you can cope more comfortably. The Mediterranean diet, for example, is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthful unsaturated fats. These edibles can help build strong bones and muscles, and -- in some cases -- can even fight pain
Whole grains are rich in fiber, a good-for-you ingredient that curbs appetite and helps you manage your weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important to keep chronic pain at bay. Another benefit: Whole grains are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown in animal studies to fight muscle pain.
Enjoying salmon in your diet is a good bet for managing chronic pain. Salmon is rich in pain-relieving omega-3 fatty acids, but it's also a great source of another potential pain fighter: vitamin D. There's a strong link between low levels of the sunshine vitamin and chronic pain, and emerging research suggests supplementing your diet with vitamin D may help ease the discomfort.
When it comes to spices with potential pain-relieving properties, go for the gold: ginger and turmeric. Ginger contains four substances (gingerols, paradols, shogaols, and zingerone) that have analgesic qualities similar to aspirin or ibuprofen. Turmeric -- a spice used in Indian and Thai curry dishes -- contains curcumin, another ginger-family member that may also help fightt pain. So, next time you're feeling extra achy -- brew a cup of ginger tea or order some Thai takeout for dinner.
Grab a basket of sweet, juicy strawberries next time they're in season (or use frozen ones anytime). These red treats are chock-full of vitamin C, an antioxidant with powerful properties that relieve pain, according to research. Some studies suggest vitamin C may help people experience less pain after breaking a bone or having orthopedic surgery. Similar research indicates vitamin C may hinder arthritis-inducing cartilage loss and the formation of bone lesions in the joints
Toss a spinach or arugula salad for a jolt of vitamin K -- a nutrient with potential pain-soothing properties, according to some preliminary research. Vitamin K also helps maintain strong bones and healthy joints. In one study, older adults with ample blood levels of K were less likely to develop osteoarthritis, compared to a low-in-K control group. You can get all the K you need from dark leafy greens: a cup of raw spinach has 145 micrograms (132% of what you need for the day). Caution: Vitamin K also helps with blood clotting, so if you're taking blood thinners, check with your doc before boosting your K intake.
Can yogurt and other dairy foods relieve chronic pain? Not directly, but they do contain two bone-building nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. Not only does vitamin D do more than build bone strength, it may also play a role in reducing chronic pain, according to some study findings. So, load your grocery cart with yummy, creamy (but low-fat) dairy foods fortified with the sunshine vitamin. Can't stomach dairy foods due to lactose intolerance? Reach for calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice or soymilk.