Foods That May Help Fight Pain

The active compounds found in these foods have been credited with helping to reduce pain, sometimes to the same extent as commonly prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Some of the studies—on humans and animals—into the role of these foods in pain management are promising, but the research is in its infancy.

  • Red grapes, peanuts and cranberries all contain resveratrol, identified as a biologic that may fight pain. Most of the research has been on animal models, but the nutrient shows promise. Red wine also contains resveratrol, but using alcohol to reduce pain is generally not recommended.
  • Ginger has been found effective as an anti-inflammatory medication for pain manage-
    ment in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (Ribel-Madsen et al. 2012).
  • Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which is known
    to blunt the pain response (Leong et al. 2013). But beware—these chilis are
    hot! Capsaicin may be more practical in topical creams or ointments.
  • Green tea and pomegranates are loaded with potent antioxidants with decreased inflammation and pain relief (Leong et al. 2013).
  • Tumeric is a widely used spice–expecially common in South Asian dishes such as curry–that has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects owing to its active ingredient curcumin, which reduces the activity of inflammatory enzymes in the body (Kuptniratsaikul et al. 2009).
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    antioxidants associated with decreased inflammation and pain relief (Leong et al. 2013).
  • Turmeric is a widely used spice—especially common in South Asian dishes such as curry—that has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects owing to its active ingredient curcumin, which reduces the activity of inflammatory enzymes in the body (Kuptniratsaikul et al. 2009).

To read more about how nutrition can impact our health, please see “Nutrition Strategies for Stress and Pain Management” in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

"Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician and obesity medicine physician, registered dietitian and health coach. She practices general pediatrics with a focus on healthy family routines, nutrition, physical activity and behavior change in North County, San Diego. She also serves as the senior advisor for healthcare solutions at the American Council on Exercise. Natalie is the author of five books and is committed to helping every child and family thrive. She is a strong advocate for systems and communities that support prevention and wellness across the lifespan, beginning at 9 months of age."

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