How Nutrition Affects Pain
I encourage my patients with pain to make certain lifestyle changes to enhance their body’s ability to combat pain. One of the main components of this is adequate nutrition. So what is optimal nutrition? It starts with a well-balanced diet, avoiding processed foods, focusing on nutrient-dense foods. Optimal nutrition also means having all the potential building blocks that your body may need to combat inflammation, to have optimal functioning of the nervous system, and to help your psychological well-being. There are many components to pain. There is an inflammatory component. There’s processing within the nervous system which is based on chemistry. There’s also a psychological and emotional component to pain. Nutrition can help with all these components of pain. There are a host of nutrients that are necessary for your body to function normally and to also combat disease, pain, and rebuild injured tissue. Sometimes it takes more than just your diet to make sure you have the optimum amount of nutrients available.
The Federal government does have minimum daily requirements for many nutrients. However, these requirements are extremely low. The way they are formulated is by figuring out the minimum amount you need to prevent a deficiency syndrome. As an example, there was a recent study done on the use of Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, for migraine and tension headaches. It turns out after several months it was very effective in treating headaches. The dosage used was 400mg per day. The minimum daily requirement of Riboflavin? 1.8 mg. The study was done with 200 times the minimum daily requirement to get the effect. To optimally fight pain I believe we need adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, enzymes, and building blocks for tissue repair. For patients struggling with pain, supplements are a great way to get consistent nutrition.