9 Surprising Foods that Fight Pain

  • Cherries
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  • Ginger
    iStock
  • Let Beans Be Your Best Friend
    iStock

What do a cup of coffee, a bowl of beans, and a couple of ibuprofen have in  common? Surprising answer: They all reduce pain. “Popping a pill may be easier,  but it does nothing to cure the underlying cause of your pain like eating the  right foods can do,” says Beth Reardon director of integrative nutrition at Duke  Integrative Medicine. And the number of foods proven to offer relief is growing.  Here are six common aches and pains and the foods that help fight them.

Achy joints

Food Rx: Cherries, turmeric Here’s sweet news: Preliminary  research suggests that eating about 20 tart cherries may be as effective as  taking ibuprofen for reducing pain. In a more recent study, eating about 45  cherries a day reduced C-reactive protein, a major marker of inflammation  associated with arthritis, by 25 percent. Likewise, the spice turmeric contains  curcumin, a compound that in one study eased pain as well as ibuprofen did in  people with knee osteoarthritis.

Sore Muscles

Food Rx: Ginger Walking like a cowboy after that set of squats?  Sip ginger tea. In a recent study, people who lifted weights experienced 25  percent less post-workout pain 24 hours after consuming ginger (about half a  teaspoon a day for 11 days) than those taking a placebo. Researchers credit  gingerols, antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties.  (More great ginger news, here.)

Heartburn

Food Rx: Beans While fiber giveth (gas), it also taketh away (acid  reflux). A study in the journal Gut found that people who regularly ate  high-fiber foods like beans were 20 percent less likely to report GERD  (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms, probably because fiber moves food  out of the stomach faster and prevents reflux. (See how else you can sneak in more fiber.)

Digestive Pain

Food Rx: Peppermint, coconut The menthol in fresh peppermint and  peppermint tea acts as a carminative (a compound that relieves gas and bloating)  and a muscle relaxer, which can help relieve the cramping and spasms associated  with occasional intestinal distress and full-blown IBS. For diarrhea, Reardon  suggests eating 1 to 3 teaspoons of shredded unsweetened coconut, which has  anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

PMS Cramps

Food Rx: Nuts Your body may be telling you that you need brownies,  but opt for trail mix when that PMS funk hits. A study in the American  Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intakes of  riboflavin from foods such as almonds were more than a third less likely to  develop PMS, including cramps and brain fog, than those who had the lowest  intakes. Foods high in vitamin B6, such as pistachios, can also help reduce  irritability, cramps, and fluid retention associated with PMS, says Reardon. (In fact, you can forget cramps all together when you follow  these tips to prevent period cramps.)
Food  Rx: Coffee, pumpkin seeds Your pounding head is often a result of  dilated, or enlarged, blood vessels in your brain. Caffeinated drinks such as  coffee can help constrict blood vessels and ease the pain; they also make  painkillers work better so you can reduce your dose. But if you have the mother  of all headaches—a migraine—you may be deficient in magnesium and could benefit  from foods rich in this nutrient, such as pumpkin seeds, says Reardon. Magnesium  helps calm the overexcited nerves and tense muscles that contribute to migraine  pain. (It’s also one of our 25 Best Foods For Your Heart.)

 

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Published in: on June 28, 2013 at 7:44 am  Leave a Comment  

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