The Role of Diet in Pain Management

Article for national nutrition month 2023

Diet has been shown to play a supportive role in chronic pain management. More specifically, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods has been shown to lower inflammation and oxidative stress in the body with significantly positive effects on pain reduction.

The most evidence-based dietary pattern for pain management is the Mediterranean diet. This anti-inflammatory diet is based predominantly on plant foods. The diet focuses on daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, high-fibre cereals and whole grains, legumes and pulses (beans), unsaturated fats including extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy products such as milk and yoghurt. Animal proteins such as lean white meats, eggs and omega-3 rich fish feature in smaller quantities throughout the week. Red meat consumption is limited to once or twice per month. Foods that are high in added sugars, fats and salt, as well as processed meats should be avoided.

Thus, the Mediterranean diet highlights the variety and diversity of plant foods that should be consumed on a daily basis. These plant foods are rich in components such as fibre, anti‑oxidants, phytochemicals (meaning plant chemicals), as well as important anti‑inflammatory nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin D and omega-3 (to name a few). Fibre, which is a unique component of plant foods, promotes the growth and diversity of healthy gut bacteria. These gut bacteria play a vital role in sending signals to the immune system, the brain and the rest of the body which in turn help to lower the inflammatory response.

Therefore, by adopting a Mediterranean style of eating, you are more likely to eat more plants, strengthen your gut bacteria and decrease the inflammation in your body which will ultimately assist in better pain management. Power to the plants!

***Tessa Hille is a Registered Dietitian at the Health Collective in Cape Town. 

Her passion is to empower individuals to adopt sustainable dietary habits in a balanced manner. She has a strong focus on adopting more plant-focused habits for the management of pain and inflammation for clients at the Health Collective. 

Discover the Advantages of Non-Invasive Pain Procedures for Improved Quality of Life

Non-invasive pain management refers to methods of pain relief that do not involve surgical or invasive procedures. There are several benefits to non-invasive pain management:

Lower risk of complications: Non-invasive pain management techniques typically have fewer risks of complications than invasive procedures. This can reduce the likelihood of infection, bleeding, or other adverse effects.

Shorter recovery time: Since non-invasive pain management techniques do not require surgery, they typically have a shorter recovery time than invasive procedures. This means that patients can return to their normal activities sooner.

Less pain and discomfort: Non-invasive pain management techniques often involve the use of medications or other therapies that can reduce pain and discomfort without the need for invasive procedures.

Improved quality of life: Non-invasive pain management can help improve a patient's quality of life by reducing pain and allowing them to participate in activities they may have avoided due to discomfort.

Cost-effective: Non-invasive pain management techniques are often less expensive than invasive procedures. This can make them a more accessible option for patients who cannot afford expensive medical treatments.

Some examples of non-invasive pain management techniques include physical and other rehabilitative therapies, pain neuroscience education, medication management, and nerve stimulation. For complex chronic pain there is seldom a single modality that provides a quick fix. For this reason, it's important to work with a pain practitioner to determine the most appropriate approach and combination of interventions for pain management for each individual patient.