All of the conflicting news about fats, carbohydrates, and other good-for-you, bad-for-you food choices can make you want to pull your hair out at the supermarket, especially if you’re trying to combat pain with your diet. When your well-being is at stake, however, making the right decisions is key. Keeping a few particularly harmful foods off the grocery list could help reduce your pain.

Many of the foods listed below lead to inflammation, which often leads to flare-ups in chronic pain sufferers. Inflammation occurs as they body’s normal response to infection. However, chronic inflammation spells bad news for pain sufferers.

In particular, avoid these four foods if you’re suffering from chronic pain.

1. Sugar

Cakes, cookies, and bowls of ice cream may call your name, but the sugar inside can make life miserable for chronic pain sufferers. Sugar is highly inflammatory, and people looking to mitigate their pain through lifestyle changes should avoid it as much as possible.

2. Refined carbohydrates

Carbohydrates fuel the body, but if overly refined, they can cause inflammation and worsen pain. Refined carbohydrates include white flour, sugar, and rice that has been stripped of its healthy fiber. The health-busters frequently appear in such foods as white breads, pasta products, crackers, and processed, baked goods. Although refined foods are quicker and easier to cook than those with whole grains, they also spike blood sugar, which can lead to inflammation.

3. Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten-free diets first emerged to help people with celiac disease, an inflammatory bowel conditions. However, some people without celiac disease have found reducing or eliminating gluten improves feelings of pain.

Research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that gluten caused gastrointestinal symptoms and inflammation even in people without celiac disease. The diet may seem restrictive, but with up to 30% of adults now reducing or eliminating gluten from their diets, according to market research firm NPD Group, more gluten-free food choices have appeared on the market.

4. Fried foods

Fried foods may taste good, but they contain an overabundance of pain-inducing omega-6 fatty acids. Eating a diet balanced with omega-6 and omega-3 fats, found in salmon and walnuts, promotes health. However, the standard U.S. diet includes substantially more omega 6s that promote inflammation. Research published in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy found patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who ate fewer omega-6 fats and more omega-3s reduced their inflammation.

What foods do you avoid to reduce pain? 

Image by Mathieu Marquer via Flickr


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