You probably have heard the expression “you are what you eat” before. Have you ever stopped to think about what this phrase really means? The food we eat provides the necessary fuel for all of our bodily processes. If we want our cars to run at their optimum levels we need to put the best quality gas and oil into them. Likewise, if we want our bodies to run at their optimum levels we need to put the best food or “fuel” into them!
It is extremely important that we pay attention to the quality of food we put into our bodies. Organically grown food is freshly picked, has no herbicides or pesticides and has the most nutrients. The more a food is processed, the more toxins and less energy and nutrient value it holds. Here is a general rule: look for whole foods, foods that are fresh, natural, edible things, as close to their natural state as possible. Some great choices are: fruits, vegetables, unrefined cereal grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
Foods that have dehydrated, boxed for several weeks or months, or canned contain little energy and are full of preservatives, additives and sometimes even dyes. Processed foods offer a significantly reduced amount of nutrients compared with whole foods. Because the food we eat is really our only source of “fuel”, we really are what we eat!
We all know our diets should contain mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Unfortunately, we do not hear too much about the correlation between our diets and pain and inflammation in the body. As a society, millions of adults suffer from different forms of pain. Whether a chronic pain, such as tendonitis or arthritis, or a musculoskeletal issue, certain foods can be included or excluded in our diets to help alleviate the suffering. Although taking an anti-inflammatory can be very appealing, there are many side affects associated with a reliance on this method of relief. Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to an injury. It can also be caused by arthritis or allergies, including allergies to certain foods (i.e. gluten, dairy, eggs or wheat).
In order to help control the body’s inflammatory response it is important to eat foods rich in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids while trying to keep the body as alkaline (non-acidic) as possible. Some anti-inflammatory foods that can be helpful include: apples, avocados, berries, cold-water fish (salmon, sardines), garlic, ginger, turmeric, pineapple, olive, coconut or flaxseed oil and unsalted nuts (except peanuts) or seeds.
It would also be helpful to limit the amount of sugar (corn syrup, molasses, etc.), highly processed and refined products, alcohol, caffeine, tomatoes, white potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, wheat products, shellfish, citrus fruits (except lemon), artificial sweeteners, saturated fat, and hydrogenated oil in your diet.
The specific foods mentioned above are suggestions for you to experiment with. A great way to keep track of how food affects your pain or inflammation levels is to keep a journal. Plan your meals with the following caloric composition: 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% healthy fats. As with any healthy eating plan, make sure you plan your meals ahead of time, whenever possible. Some additional mealtime recommendations for enhancing the quality of your meals or snacks are: pay attention to what you are eating, turn off the TV and avoid other distractions such as reading, driving or talking on the telephone and wait 20 minutes after eating for your brain to register the meal or snack you consumed!

Author's Bio: 

Rachel Lerner is a holistic health counselor, certified nutritional consultant, fitness nutrition coach and founder of Personal Web Nutrition ( She has run several successful weight loss contests and recently published an e-book weight loss program. She has led wellness seminars for several corporations, including Starwood Hotels, YMCA and Camp Reveille. Rachel hosts her own radio show on called Healthy Bits and Bites. Rachel also was the nutrition expert for Joan Lunden’s Camp Reveille.