When considering the mechanisms of pain, it is essential to understand that the messengers of our microbiome control the feeling of pain. The quality of our gut bacteria (microbiome) depends on the food we eat, and most important of all on the amount of fibre intake. Our enteric nervous system (inside our microbiome) sends messages to our central nervous system (inside the brain) via the vagus nerve, resulting in the physical feeling that we name "pain". With this in mind it is easier to understand how the molecules of the food we eat impact on our mental perception of pain.
Pain is caused by inflammation and cell oxidation. The first step to take when starting to feel pain is to focus on those types of food that inhibit the inflammatory and oxidative processes. Many fruits and vegetables contain molecules inhibiting the development of pro-inflammatory messengers. Berries, green leafy vegetables, spices and so on.
I will focus on three major ingredients:
- The Pomegranate Fruit
- Essential Fatty Acids
The Pomegranate Fruit
Among all the antioxidant fruit, the pomegranate is the highest in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Its high levels of polyphenols act as blocking agents of the inflammatory process, therefore reducing our sensibility to pain.
A glassful of fresh pomegranate juice a day, the use of pomegranate seeds in salads and fruits dishes, or just biting in a beautiful juicy pomegranate will give your body an extra daily amount of natural pain killing compounds.
Essential Fatty Acids
A perfect balance between different types of fatty acids is major in controlling our sensitivity to pain. Omega 3 types of fatty acids need to be an essential component of our diet. The amount of proper fatty acid intake has a direct consequence on the production of PG1 and PG3 prostaglandins (anti inflammatory agents). Consuming a high fat diet will definitely act on reducing joint pain, tendinitis, and other types of inflammatory aches.
Go for oils such as canola, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, and hemp. Regularly consume soybeans and seeds (Remember chia seeds must be soaked for proper digestion!).
Bearing in mind that our organisms more efficiently assimilate the omega 3 from marine sources, a daily consumption of algae is essential in a vegetarian diet. (The red algue Crypthecodinium and Schizochytrium have a high concentration of omega 3).
Curcuma is an ancestral remedy in India and Asia for all sorts of aches and pains. From stomach ache and nausea, to joint pains to healing wounds...Curcuma powder contains up to 6% polyphenols making it one of the most valued antioxidant and anti inflammatory ingredient of our diets. Curcumine will also stimulate mucus secretion, which protects our stomach lining. A daily intake is a great habit to establish in case of, and in prevention of pain. Consider 1,5 to 3g of powder a day, in your curry dishes, salad dressings, golden lattes.
These elements are a reminder of the importance of our diet on our health. As in all mechanical processes, what we eat either clog our system, and bring disease, or boost its functions, making us healthy and filled with vitality.
Author: Nutritionist Marie-Noëlle Bourgeois
See also our blog "6 Super Foods to Prevent Training Inflammation"