By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
Has an injury gotten you off your exercise routine? Do you have a chronic condition that causes you pain and prevents you from exercising and enjoying your life? This is the article for you.
First, what is inflammation? Inflammation is your body’s mechanism to heal an injury or infection. Through a series of biochemical reactions, white blood cells and other chemicals are sent to the injured area to fight off foreign bodies. You’ve certainly experienced the benefits of acute inflammation if you’ve had a cut, injury or infection. The symptoms typically include: redness; warmth; pain; swelling; and loss of movement and function. You need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy. When inflammation becomes chronic, however, there are often no symptoms until a loss of function occurs. This is because chronic inflammation is low-grade and systemic, often silently damaging your tissues. Accidents and sports injuries are some of the most common causes of chronic inflammation and pain.
The good news is that there are things you can add into your daily routine to aid in recovering from an injury and reduce or eliminate pain and chronic inflammation:
1. Get Moving: Movement is life for our bodies. There are 360 joints in the human body, but only 230 are moveable. Our joints and bodies are designed to move and exercise. Movement and exercise produces endorphins which are our bodies’ natural opiates or pain killers. Besides that, regular exercise has positive effects on your metabolism, healthy weight control, and cardiovascular health. If you have pain from an injury, then you should see your chiropractor, and/or medical doctor before you begin exercising an injured area or joint. Rehabilitating an injury can prevent chronic pain in the future. If you have pain from degenerative condition and/or osteoarthritis, movement can help. There is always some form of exercise that you can safely do. Water exercise is an excellent, non-weight bearing activity that you can do to improve your health and fitness while being easy on your joints.
2. Omega 3 Fats: Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Our cell membranes are made up of omega 3 fatty acids and are essential for a healthy brain and nervous system. Some of my favorite food sources of omega 3 fats are: wild caught salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines; grass fed beef and wild game; eggs; walnuts; and chia seeds. Increasing your intake of omega 3 fats through a supplement, your diet, or both will aid in decreasing inflammation at the cellular level. This will, over time, decrease any pain associated with inflammation.
3. Ginger: Ginger root is excellent at combating inflammation and it is great for digestion. You can receive the benefits from ginger by adding it in cooking, adding fresh ginger root to your smoothies, or by steeping fresh ginger in boiling water to make a tea.
4. Tumeric or Curcumin: Tumeric root contains curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. As discussed in a previous article, curcumin has over 50 healing actions. Turmeric can be incorporated into your meals in a myriad of ways: You can make a vegetable curry using curry powder and coconut milk; add fresh tumeric root to your smoothie; steep fresh tumeric with your ginger to make a tea; sprinkle turmeric in your salad dressing or on stir-fries; or cook it with your soups, stews or eggs in the morning. You can also take this in supplement form. As with all supplements, look for the label certification that it has been tested for quality and content.
5. Cherries: Tart cherries are anti-inflammatory and may help lower your risk of gout attacks and reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. They, along with all the red/blue/purple fruits are high in antioxidants which improve your cellular health.
6. Sugar: Oh, how we love sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily. The added sugar is added calories which can lead to weight gain, obesity and type II diabetes. Sugar can also produce pro-inflammatory chemicals that over time can cause inflammation and pain. If you suffer from chronic pain, decreasing your added sugar can help. Decreasing the number of foods consumed from a box or package is a good start along with reading your labels for sugar content.
These tips along with a clean, organic diet of whole plant based food, high quality protein and good fats will improve your level of health and wellbeing. Food as good medicine can reduce your pain, help you manage your weight, get better rest, have more energy, and get off the path of chronic pain and disease. Always remember to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily for overall health and to remove toxins.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs has been a practicing board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander since 1994. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.