There are a number of nutritional supplements and strategies that can help reduce body pain.
Omega-3 fatty acids
- Highest in wild-caught, cold water fish and grass-fed animals. Sardines are ideal (low in heavy metals).
- Relatively low in farmed fish (e.g. Tasmanian salmon) or feed lot animals.
- Available from fish oil (or krill oil) supplements.Aim 4-6g / day of fish oil.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks for anti-inflammatory chemical messengers.
Turmeric / curcumin
- Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory for thousands of years.
- Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.
- Absorption is markedly increased when mixed with either oil (cooking) or pepper.
Glucosamine / chondroitin
- Cartilage supplements can be helpful for joint pain.
- Work on a month-to-month basis (worth a 2 month trial).
- Magnesium is the principal molecule that moves out of muscle cells to help them contract.- 50% of the modern population is thought to be magnesium deficient. - Alcohol and acid-lowering medications contribute to magnesium deficiency.
- Magnesium deficiency has been linked to muscle cramps, muscle pain and depression.
- Grains in our diet reduce absorption of magnesium and other minerals via the action of “phytate” chemicals.
– Oral: drinks / tablets where magnesium is bound to an amino-acid to aid absorption (e.g. magnesium orotate).
– Skin: magnesium sprays or Epsom salt baths (half a cup in warm bath for 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week).
No sugar / low carbs / low grains
- Sugar or other simple carbohydrates in the diet stimulate the release of insulin and another messenger, IGF-1. These are generally pro-inflammatory. Reducing sugar/carbs reduces levels of these pro-inflammatory messengers.
- Grains are also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are the raw ingredients for pro-inflammatory chemical messengers in the prostaglandin family. High omega-6 to omega-3 ratios tend to increase inflammation in the body.
- Reduced weight directly reduces the mechanical load on sore hip and knee joints.
- Fat that accumulates around our abdominal organs (visceral fat) is much more metabolically active than previously thought. It is responsible for releasing inflammatory chemical messengers into the blood stream that increase inflammation and can sensitise pain nerves. Reducing visceral fat can therefore have a powerful effect on reducing pain, way beyond simply unloading of joints. It also reduces the risk of diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
- Fat storage is governed by the insulin hormone, which in turn is stimulated by eating carbohydrates (esp sugar), and to a lesser extent, protein. A diet that has low carbs, adequate protein and healthy fats (including olive oil, coconut oil and fish oil) is a good way to reduce this fat. A good resource is www.dietdoctor.com.
- Vigorous exercise can also help to selectively reduce visceral fat.
Dr. Chris Homan
MBBS FRACGP FACRRM DRANZCOG PGDipMSM(Otago)