Watch out for these pain provoking foods

Thousands suffering chronic pain hold little hope of a reprieve, and seen multiple practitioners to no avail. A good night’s

Thousands suffering chronic pain hold little hope of a reprieve, and seen multiple practitioners to no avail. A good night’s sleep and that exhilarating feeling that kicks in with the release of endorphins post exercise seems a thing of the distant past.

The good news is there is hope. What most don’t realise is that often inflammation is ticking away under the radar fuelling pain. One of the most common triggers of whole body inflammation and soreness is diet.

Often only a few simple modifications to the diet to remove common inflammatory foods and incorporating more of the anti-inflammatory foods can result in a dramatic easing of aches and pains, muscle cramping and joint swelling.

75 per cent of our immune system is in the gut wall only one cell deep. Some foods cause reactivity in the gut and damage the mucosal surface allowing food antigens to breach the gut lining and stimulating circulation of inflammatory cells that lodge in muscles and joints.

I hear many of my clients say, ‘I don’t have a problem with anything I eat’. But little do they realise, foods can cause symptoms up to 72 hours after eating. The next question is, ‘How do we know which foods could be a problem?’

The simplest way to determine if foods are affecting your pain is to remove common inflammatory foods from the diet for 2 weeks. Most symptoms related to food should ease in that time. The eliminated foods are then challenged one at a time to assess for a reaction. That is the gold standard for food intolerance testing.

In some cases, a qualified practitioner may need to suggest more specific elimination at a sensitive level. Another option is a blood test looking for antibodies produced in response to a range of foods. In this case elimination of foods is not necessary to get answers but these tests are not full proof.

Whether you are dealing with the chronic swelling of arthritis, or multi area muscle pain, tackling inflammation is the key. A few tweaks to your shopping list can make a huge difference. Many of my clients have been ecstatic to report a significant easing of their pain and swelling within the first 2 weeks off inflammatory foods. A common bonus spin off is better energy and weightloss without trying.

5 foods to avoid to settle inflammation and ease pain

  1. Vegetable oils

Vegies are good for you so vegetable oil should be healthy, true or false? The answer is false. Many vegetable oils contain high levels of omega-6 fats that promote inflammation. Palm oil, soybean, safflower, canola, and corn oil are all high in omega -6. Margarines contain Trans fats which cause oxidative stress and should be avoided.

Cold pressed olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and great to spread over food. Cooking with olive oil should be at low heat only so it doesn’t turn rancid. High heat cooking is safer with rice bran oil or coconut oil.

Eating oily fish 3-4 times per week will give you enough omega-3 oils which are anti-inflammatory, but if you have arthritis you may need to supplement with a quality fish oil up to 6 grams per day.

  1. Sugar

As a nation we eat far too much sugar. Our blood sugar needs to be kept relatively constant. Too much is toxic to the brain so the body stimulates release of insulin from the pancreas to deposit the sugar into the cells as fat. Over time, with greater demands on insulin our cells don’t recognise it and we need more and more to do the same job.

That’s when the trouble starts. High insulin promotes inflammation and even cancer. Many tip into diabetes when the pancreas struggles to make enough insulin.

To reduce those dangerous blood sugar spikes, avoid refined sugars found in icecream, white bread and sweets. Buyer beware, fruit juice has just as much sugar as a can of soft drink. Check out the labels. Many popular cup sized tubs of yoghurt have over 25 grams of sugar, that’s 5 teaspoons!

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol is a carbohydrate so that means it adds to the sugar load. It is said that red wine contains beneficial antioxidants but you need to drink 6 glasses to get a therapeutic dose. The alcohol consumed far out ways the benefit.

Alcohol dehydrates the body so toxic waste cannot move freely from the extremities accumulating in muscles causing pain. Alcohol also depletes the body of essential minerals particularly magnesium needed for muscle relaxation.

As we approach our 40s and 50s the liver’s ability to detox alcohol declines. Alcohol breaks down the liver cell membranes and they start to die. If you want to enjoy a drink, try to keep it to weekends and limit to a couple of glasses.

  1. Caffeine

A little coffee can give you the kick-start you need in the morning and help you blast through a tough workout while it also supports cognitive function, protects the liver, and serves up a healthy dose of antioxidants. But more than 2 in a day drains the body of magnesium and zinc and increases body acidity. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, fatigue, headaches and digestive issues, all of which creates additional inflammation within the body and slows the healing process of any injuries or illnesses.

  1. Food allergy triggers

Gluten containing foods including bread, pasta, or wheat cereals and dairy are the two most common triggers of pain and swelling in joints and muscles. Not everyone reacts to these foods but if you suffer from chronic pain it’s worth checking it out.

Others may be sensitive to shell fish, eggs, nuts or high FODMAP foods. FODMAPS are types of sugars in food like fructose in fruit, fructans in wheat and lactose in milk that a percentage of the population do not have enzymes to digest, they ferment in the gut and cause stomach bloat.

Talking to a health practitioner about avoiding foods you may be reactive to can significantly reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis, muscle aches, headache and much more.

If you are concerned about joint pain, body aches, arthritis, and inflammation, I recommend you consume a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in the reactive foods which can give you fast relief. Also, adding more real food like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and organic meat to your diet long-term.


Share your thoughts below.

  1. That picture so reminds me of ME! It looks like I’ll be going down the elimination pathway!!! :/

  2. This is totally false: “Alcohol is a carbohydrate so that means it adds to the sugar load.” Pure alcohol is neither a carbohydrate nor a sugar. There are carbs in beer, varying by type, and mixer drinks may add sugars but pure alcohol has no carbs at all. The rest of the section on alcohol is mostly nonsense too.

    • You are correct however no one drinks pure alcohol. In fact it’s almost impossible to buy pure alcohol. So wine, spirits etc all have a greater or lesser carbohydrate content as they are made with sugar and or grains. So in practical terms what she is saying is correct.

    • Robyn Green I happily enjoy neat scotch and other spirits. Many people enjoy those.In both real and practical terms she is incorrect. There are also almost no carbs in dry wines. The carbs do not come from the alcohol in the drinks.

    • Ok perhaps we are both learing something here. Scotch is not pure alcohol. it’s somewhere between 30 and 48% proof( which is 15- 24% alcohol) in most normal brands. I knew it had calories but assumed those calories came from the grain and the sugars used to make alcohol. Apparently not and now I am bemused. Not sure how a nip of scotch can have about 97 calories but little to no carbs. I stand by what I said, in so far as it’s almost impossible to buy pure alcohol in Australia (some pharmacy’s do stock in very small quantitites) Of course I would be pretty daft if I thought you couldn’t buy spirits in this country, or if it were news to me that folks choose to drink straight spirits, without mixers. So now I need to find out where the calories come from if they don’t come in the form of carbs ie they are not coming from protein and they are not coming from fat so, what else is left?

    • Alan Shanley.. further to my comment I think I have it sorted. The alcohol in a nip of scotch metabolises in our sytems and convert to sugars. So in basic terms the alcohol has zero carbs in the bottle but when injested into your system metabolises to a sugar therefore has a caloric outcome for your body and those calories come from the sugars created by your metabolism! Phew.

    • Robyn Green In neat spirits the non-alcoholic content is usually just inert water with some flavouring such as juniper or cask-wood or smoke. No carbs, protein or fats.

    • So after a read through of that “way too complex for me to fully absorb” link I can understand the main thrust of it but still can’t see where the energy or caloric content comes from. The energy has to be from sugars in the body and several sources I’ve looked up indicate that this is the case.

    • Robyn, I can’t say more than I have, apart from noting my blood sugar goes down after drinking alcohol.

    • Well that’s good news for you Alan. I don’t drink and am not diabetic so I have no personal position on this, just an enquiring mind. Somewhere, there has to be energy produced for it to be calorific. Nice working through it with you. Cheers.

    • Robyn Green Do some reading on it. I hope I have made it clear whatever the energy is, it is not sugar nor does it metabolise to sugar.

    • I thought the above discourse indicated I have indeed done some reading on it. That was a tad condescending of you wasn’t it? Hey ho Yes Alan, you have made your position clear.

    • That was not my intention, I apologise. I was under the impression you still though alcohol became sugars. I would be interested to see urls to your sources.

  3. Please provide sources for the SAS pronouncements on health. There have been too many flawed ones lately and it helps to know where the information came from to refute it properly.

  4. Everyone reacts differently to foods I still believe in moderation and you know yourself what foods upset you

  5. According to this I can eat lettuce and drink water…☺️☺️☺️

  6. She does have good qualifications, let’s be fair. She is a Physiotherapist and a Nutritionist.

  7. For me it’s onions. Gives me a distended bloated tummy with an uncomfortable low ache. Stopped when I stopped eating onions. Preservatives, fillers, and all the chemically laden rubbish in fast, package and processed foods causes breathlessness, heart to race and it almost feels like the descriptions I have been told of a full on panic attack. I have to run outside gasping for air.
    Everyone reacts differently and it’s working it out for yourself, what your body can and can’t tolerate.

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