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...
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.