Within recent years, the medical community has come to a shocking conclusion about the nature of pain. It used to be believed that pain was only a received sensation, e.g. the prick of a needle hurts due to the actual puncture of the skin. Today, it is understood that pain is actually a sensation given by the mind and body to prevent further damage from occurring. When a needle is inserted, it sends signals to the brain which translates those signals into what we know as pain, a message to our conscious to stop whatever it is we are doing.
This knowledge plays an immense role in how doctors go about remedying that pain. For instance, chiropractors understand that this pain response as well as other muscular responses, while designed to protect the body, can actually sometimes limit its healing process. For this reason the pain and muscular damage must be relieved to aid in proper healing. A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation. But your diet is also one of the best ways to reduce it.
There are many ways in which a poor diet can negatively or positively affect our body’s healing process. The best dietary approach to help your immune system, and thus help reduce chronic inflammation, is to cut out the bad inflammatory foods and adopt more of the good anti-inflammatory kinds. Many of the bad foods are processed “junk” foods with low nutritional value, including soda and other foods that contain simple sugars like high-fructose corn syrup; processed meat; and white bread, white pasta, and other foods high in refined carbohydrates.
As we’ve all come to know, aiming for a variety of healthy foods including whole grains, healthy proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and natural/ healthy oils, contribute all the vital nutrients your immune system needs. This in turn has high potential to help manage and even prevent inflammation, which can help soothe chronic pain.
Weight also plays its own role in the connection between pain and nutrition. Obesity, or even small amounts of poorly distributed weight (perhaps a large belly), will negatively affect the proper spinal alignment and put extra strain on ligaments and muscles. This can work against any effort your chiropractor makes to realign your body. Beginning an exercise regimen and regular stretching is the best approach to weight loss, maintaining strong bones, and helping reduce undue stress and musculoskeletal pain.
Chiropractors work on the musculoskeletal system. That means both muscles, and the skeleton, as they work together as a unit. While most of their work focuses on alleviating muscular imbalance and tightness to properly align our skeleton, it is also important to keep our bones healthy. Again, nutrition plays a dominant role in skeletal health. As such, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, rich in nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, can contribute significantly to both the prevention and the treatment of bone injury and diseases.
Inflammation is the body’s immune response to toxins as it works to “purify” itself. The resulting inflammation not only causes pain in the body but also stress. Over time, it also can trigger chronic diseases, such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and even depression. Once these stressors to the body are identified and changes made, it will impact how receptive the brain is to manage pain and promote healing.