- Eat Right
- 8 Months ago
It's Mind Over Matter
Painkillers can make you dep endent and ruin the lining of your stomach and digestive tract. Learn to fight pain without medication.
Foods To Combat Pain
Ginger: Ginger reduces pain-causing prostaglandin levels in the body. A study by Indian researchers has found that ginger helps to reduce muscular pain.
Berries & Cherries: Muraleedharan Nair, professor at Michigan State University, found that tart cherry extract is more effective than aspirin in relieving inflammation. The same anti-pain compound is found in berries.
Turmeric: Its main therapeutic ingredient is curcumin. Studies have found that curcumin suppresses pain through a similar mechanism as drugs like COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors (without the harmful side effects).
Omega 3 foods: Oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds are all rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. These acids have anti-inflammatory benefits. Fish oil acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40-55% of the release of cytokines-compounds known to destroy joints.
WalNuts: Raw walnuts, flaxseeds and walnut oil also contain the same powerful Omega-3 fatty acids that fight pain and inflammation in the body.
Move it: A good workout boosts your endorphin levels. Brisk walks, jogging, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, aerobics and gym workouts cause the body to release endorphins as a defence to fight pain and stress.
Eat it: Certain foods fight pain. They help in two ways. The chewing motion triggers a mild endorphin release in all animals, including humans; secondly, anti-inflammatory foods trigger the release of endorphins to fight the pain.
Smile it: Studies on blood endorphin levels indicate that the facial muscles involved in laughing trigger an endorphin release by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. Feel the pain? Laugh. Fake it (smile) till you make it.
Breathe it: Yoga and pranayama exercises help in stress management and relaxation. Scientists have found that such breathing exercises trigger an endorphin release in the hypothalamus of the human brain.
Drink it: Alcohol is an endorphin booster. Study on rats found an increased level of endorphins in their blood after alcohol consumption. Moderation is the key. You don't want to fight a backache and end up with a hangover!
Do it: During lovemaking, a peptide called oxytocin, responsible for feelings and emotions of affection, is released in the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland. The release of oxytocin triggers the production of endorphins, which have a sedative effect.
Niren Mehta, 46, a technology entrepreneur, is afflicted with chronic arthritis. Anil Ghorpade, 43, CTO at a BPO, has mild arthritis. Who suffers more? Surprisingly, Ghorpade. Pain is our body's way of signalling that something is wrong. But people report varying levels of pain for the same level of bone degeneration. This is because of the differences in our attitude towards pain.
Mehta wants to be pain free and get on with life. "I don't have time for pain in my life," he says. To get there, he followed a strict regimen of to-dos, and within four months, was pain free. Ghorpade, on the other hand, receives a fat medical allowance from his company, and keeps visiting orthopaedics. Such interactions keep feeding his pain and make it bigger and bigger in his mind.
Mehta's and Ghorpade's blood reports are also contradictory to their physical states. Mehta had high levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body. He began workouts and changed his diet, which helped him lessen his pain. Ghorpade had low levels of CRP, but it gradually increased when his visits to orthopaedists and x-ray labs began consuming a large part of his weekends. This increased his pain.
Kill That Pain
We all have our aches and pains, even without a bone issue. Pulled muscles, lower-back aches, niggling knee injuries and shoulder pains are some common workplace complaints. These have to be dealt with appropriately. While much has been written about anti-inflammatory foods, a combination of two or three factors in your life can actually help you get rid of your pain and stop you from reaching out for aspirin and ibuprofen. After all, these drugs end up ruining your stomach's lining and make your digestive system more sensitive as you grow older.
One sure-shot way to fight pain is by raising your endorphin levels through exercises. Endorphins are neuro transmitters that react with sedative receptors in the brain and reduce our perception of pain. Consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, breathing exercises and regular sex are some other ways by which you can combat pain.
All these seem trivial, however, with scientific evidence mounting on how putting mind over matter can relieve pain. It's worth a really good try.
So the next time you get up from that chair and bend over with lower-back ache, take that decision to kick the pain out.
Reproduced from Outlook Business's Wellness Column by Rachna Chhachhi