Nutrition has a profound effect on chronic pain. If you experience unchanging chronic pain or notice that injuries and run-of-the-mill muscle aches take longer to heal than before, chances are you have a nutrient deficiency of some sort.
One example is that if you don’t get enough vitamins and phytonutrients in your diet, which all have anti-oxidant functions your tissues will be more susceptible to free radical damage, where unstable molecules generated from normal cell metabolism overwhelm your body’s anti-oxidant defenses and damage cell membranes and DNA (oxidative stress). This can certainly play a role in chronic pain, especially if it involves nerve, cartilage, bone, ligament or muscle tissues.
But nutrient deficiencies are not necessarily caused by failure to include them in your diet. You may be getting enough nutrients from your diet but your body is unable to use them for some reason. It may be a case of malabsorption due to an underlying health condition such as celiac disease, or problems with stomach or pancreatic digestive juices; sub-optimal intestinal bacteria, which play a role in digestion; or you could be taking a drug that inhibits the nutrient’s action.
For example, if you take cholesterol lowering drugs called statins they may be depleting your vitamin D levels which can lead to bone and muscle pain. They also deplete an important enzyme called Coenzyme Q10 which plays a role in cellular energy especially in the heart, liver and kidneys.
Proton-pump inhibitors – the stomach acid blocker medications– are known to inhibit the action of trace minerals such as manganese. Trace minerals are used for many things in your body such as amino acid, bone and red blood cell formation. Deficiencies can lead to a wide variety of problems including tics, muscle spasms and cramps; seizures, anxiety, headaches, insomnia and irregular heartbeat.
Alcohol consumption can interfere with folate absorption, which can cause anemia and nerve problems, and smoking can interfere with vitamin C absorption. Vitamin C is needed for collagen production, repair of tissues and strong bones — factors that can definitely affect level of pain.
So, if you suffer from chronic pain, it is imperative that you focus on eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet comprised of a variety of green leafy and color-rich plants, healthy oils, fiber and protein and avoid foods known to wreak havoc with your body such as white flour, sugar, corn syrup and food additives.
Chronic pain sufferers should also get checked for thyroid deficiency. Besides low energy, fatigue and weight gain, hypothyroidism can cause a host of other symptoms, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
Thyroid hormone supplementation and selenium, zinc, and iodine supplements may be enough to clear your symptoms.
Lastly, focus on your gut health. Your gut is where food is broken down into a form small enough to enter your cells. If there is a problem with pH, bacterial flora, or lining of your GI tract, you will have sub-optimal nutrient absorption—you can be eating healthy but still be nutritionally starved, and your body pays the price.
As a side note, did you know that your gut contains more neurons than your spinal cord and produces more serotonin than your brain? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known to affect mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function. All these factors can influence one’s perception to pain.
In summary, nutrient deficiencies, whether from an unhealthy diet or inhibited absorption can make pain worse as they inhibit proper healing and cell maintenance. Nutrient deficiencies can also negatively impact one’s mood and energy, which may increase perception to pain.
If you suffer from long-standing chronic pain, check out the Optimal Body System™ Reverse Chronic Pain Program. It is based on a five-pronged approach to dealing with chronic pain – Mindset Transformation, Stress Reduction, De-Toxification, Nutrient Infusion and Movement Strategies. The course will teach you, step-by-step, key lifestyle modification strategies that will re-ignite your body’s healing potential and reduce or possibly eliminate your chronic pain!