Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pain, pain, go away

So... I've had chronic back pain since my first daughter was born. I attribute it to my scoliosis (which has worsened over time through pregnancy and motherhood). I've also spent my life fighting chronic headaches. I used to pop ibuprofen like candy multiple times a day to keep my headaches at bay (now I only take pain killers maybe a couple of times a year).

Reducing processed (MSG-laden) foods in our diet has alleviated my headaches immensely, but I'm finding I can minimize my body pain even more by eating more anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding foods in the nightshade family--tomatoes and potatoes. Apparently they can exacerbate pain for some people. Not sure if I'm one of those people yet, but I'm experimenting to see. (No easy task since I love tomatoes and cook with them all the time.)

I love anti-inflammatory foods. They're my new best friends. Here are a few of my favorites...

1) Turmeric
I had never used this deep yellow spice until this past year when I started hearing about how health-promoting it is. It's a main ingredient in curries and it's what makes mustard yellow. Now I put a bit of turmeric in our meals several times a week. I won't go into all of the health-benefits associated with turmeric, but studies have shown that its natural anti-inflammatory effects are as powerful as painkillers like ibuprofen. The smell and flavor of turmeric remind me a lot of celery which I'm not a huge fan of, but I'm getting used to it.

2) Sweet potatoes
Did you know they're in a different family than regular potatoes? And super healthy too. Since I'm avoiding nightshade vegetables, sweet potatoes will be my substitute in potato recipes. Growing up I really didn't care for sweet potatoes, but they've grown on me a lot over the years, especially since I discovered they can be cooked without marshmallows.

3) Olive oil and fish oil
I was already cooking with olive oil everyday and taking fish oil fairly often, but now I do it with more gusto and purpose. Instead of popping ibuprofen when I've got a headache or my back is particularly painful, I pop fish oil capsules instead. Studies verify that fish oil is an effective and safe alternative for pain relief (olive oil too).

Other anti-inflammatory foods: blueberries (and other berries), papaya, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower, cherries, garlic, ginger, almonds, apples, cinnamon, dark chocolate, rosemary, chili peppers, meats from grass-fed animals, and more.

Last night we had ground bison and cut-up sweet potatoes sauteed in olive oil with fresh onion and garlic, sprinkled with chili powder and turmeric, steamed broccoli on the side. Yum.


Katy said...

We love sweet potato fries. Baked, of course. We ate about 11 sweet potatoes worth just this Sunday. YUM!

Sarah said...

Did I miss why you are avoiding nightshade veggies??? If so, sorry. If not, then do tell. My daughter has a tomato sensitivity and possible allergy we are needed to have finding out more about the nightshade issues would be helpful.

Buscando la Luz said...

They can exacerbate pain for some people, from what I understand. I think I might be one of those people. Here's a link I just found with some food for thought: Not sure how accurate it is, but it's definitely got me feeling better about leaving tomatoes in the past.

Liz Johnson said...

An easy way to add turmeric to your diet is by adding some to your rice cooker when you're making rice. Then, when it's done, you can throw in some frozen peas, stir, and cover for 5 minutes, and the peas will be cooked perfectly and you'll have a pretty yellow rice with green peas. My kids eat it like crazy.

I got the idea from here.

WP Ho said...

Thanks for the mention, Buscando. You may also want to try eating some probiotic foods. Friendly bacteria are also found to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. You can find a list of probiotic foods from my site too. Hope this helps.