As physiotherapists, we are often asked if our client’s diet can contribute to the inflammation and pain they are experiencing. What we know for sure is that food is fuel for the body. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, and it is important to maintain a balanced diet in any healthy lifestyle. Although physiotherapists do not directly deal with food related issues, we do recognize the importance of speaking with your family doctor, dietician, and/or naturopathic doctor for further advice on diet.
Can Diet Cause Inflammation?
Considering that many food sensitivities exist in this day and age, we are bound to experience some type of intolerance with certain foods. But could these foods potentially influence your body physically? Many people over their lifetime can develop any form of arthritis or inflammatory condition that could have negative physical effects on day to day living. But by knowing the diet we adapt may also affect how our body reacts and responds will help us understand what foods to avoid or choose to eat.
Food That Increase and Decrease Inflammation
Research has shown that some people have reported significant improvement in their pain and symptoms when they start eating foods that may help lessen inflammation. Here is a list of different food types that are considered anti-inflammatory and foods that may increase inflammation in the body:
- Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower)
- Fresh fruits such as berries, pomegranates or apples
- Whole grains
- Protein (salmon, eggs, tofu)
- Legumes (lentils, beans, chick peas)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax)
- Water and herbal teas
- Oils (fish oil, olive oil, flax seed oil)
- Adequate salt intake (sea salt or kosher)
- Coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
Inflammatory Food types
- Wheat, corn and white flour
- Processed meats/foods such as cold cuts
- Refined sugars
- Nightshade foods such as tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers and potatoes
- Trans fats
- Fried foods such as French fries and fried chicken
- Alcohol and coffee
- Foods containing MSG (some Chinese foods)
- Diet drinks that contain aspartame
Recent studies have shown that eating higher intakes of meat and protein and lower intakes of fruit, vegetables and vitamin C are associated with an increased risk of certain types of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been shown that when people who have their Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) under control, they also have less persistent physical joint pains. Other studies show that people who have fibromyalgia benefit more from a raw vegetarian diet and have a better sleep. This is because the raw food contains its natural form of vitamins and minerals that help reduce inflammation in the body.
Therefore, all that we consume has a positive or negative effect on our physical body function. It is very true when they say ‘you are what you eat’. But eating different foods in moderation can be safe if you are a generally healthy person without any food sensitivities.
Before changing your diet, or for more information on knowing what food can directly have an impact on you, please contact your family doctor, dietician, or naturopathic doctor.