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Eat Well, Hurt Less: Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is at the root of many health problems, including chronic pain. Eating certain foods can actually promote more inflammation and directly affect your stress and healing within your body. This can ultimately cause more pain, overeating, redness and swelling. However, good food choices can be a helpful way to decrease inflammation.

Below are some considerations for using food to your benefit in decreasing inflammation and supporting your immune system:

Limit flour and sugar

This type of food causes a sudden rise in blood sugar which increases insulin. When insulin is high you increase the pro- inflammatory cells and your immune system fatigues. Sometimes labels are confusing, so watch for these hidden sugars in your foods.

List of words meaning “added sugar: brown sugar,corn syrup, corn sweetener, raw sugar, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, syrup, honey, invert sugar, maltose, maltodextrin, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, sugar, white grape juice, lactose, high fructose corn syrup

Consider allergies or other sensitivities

Foods that you are allergic or sensitive to cause higher insulin levels which increases the stress hormone. Your body holds onto the fat and does not allow it to break down. Food allergies also cause the release of histamine, causing the redness and swelling associated with inflammation.

Additives in foods that may cause allergic reactions or other problems include: artificial coloring, Yellow 5, aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), sulfites, casein, sodium bisulfite, aspartame (NutraSweet).

Avoid the intake of trans-fats

Eating foods with trans-fats does not allow the anti-inflammatory action in our cells to take place.

  • Try to avoid refined trans-fat, omega-6 oil in cooking and use more olive oil.  These oils are predominant in processed foods made from grains (crackers, cereals, etc) and include: soy, corn, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed
  • Minimize intake of red meats that promote inflammation including beef, pork and lamb
  • Eliminate processed and refined foods as much as possible

Eat more foods that decrease inflammation and support your immune system

There are plenty of foods may help with anti-inflammation. When looking at foods, keep the following in mind:

  • Eat a well balanced variety of wholesome foods
  • Eat only unsaturated fats
  • Eat good sources of omega-3 fatty acids daily: wild Alaskan salmon, canned sardines, mussels, striped sea bass, oysters, herring, black cod, Rainbow trout, albacore tuna, soy bean oil, canola oil, flax seeds, walnuts, grass-fed/free range meats
  • Eat whole grains.  The first ingredient on the list must say whole grain for it to be a good source
  • Eat lean protein: beans, chicken, turkey, wild game (bison, elk, etc.), fish
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Foods that will help with the release of serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate and control activity of cells and organs: whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, wild rice, whole grain breads and pastas), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter), high tryptophan protein (turkey, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, eggs), beans and legumes (soybeans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans, lentils), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax seeds), root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, turnips, squash), green, yellow, red and leafy vegetables and garlic.

Watch for foods with a high glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) is a way to rank carbohydrate rich foods according to the blood glucose response following their intake. This reflects the rate of digestion and absorption. Foods with a higher GI will cause a rapid short-lived rise in blood glucose.

Examples of foods with their GI:

High: white bread, bagels, crackers, rice cakes, donuts, cookies, bacon, sausage, microwave popcorn

Moderate: sucrose, soft drinks, oats, tropical fruits (bananas and mangoes)

Low: fructose, milk, yogurt, lentils, pasta, cold climate fruits (apples and oranges)

Drink plenty of water

The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of water each day for women and 3.7 liters for men.  About 80% of this intake is from fluid and 20% from food.

Monitor your salt intake

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan bases its diet on 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day and suggests further lowering salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day (2,400 mg of sodium equals 6 gm or 1 teaspoon of table salt).

For lower sodium options: buy fresh, frozen, or canned with no-salt-added vegetables; choose low or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods and condiments when available; limit cured foods (such as bacon and ham), foods packed in brine (such as pickles, pickled vegetables, olives) and condiments (such as MSG, mustard, horseradish, ketchup and barbecue sauce); use spices instead of salt (herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar or salt-free seasoning blends).

Fitness Strength Strong Male

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a normal reaction to exercise or physical activity in which muscle soreness develops within 12- 48 hours after a strenuous activity.  The soreness is believed to be a result of microscopic tears in the muscle fibers, and associated swelling response.  This response is a part of the adaptation process, which allows the muscle to have more stamina and strength as it re-builds from the exercise load placed upon it.

It is important to realize that DOMS soreness does not mean that there is a muscle injury!  DOMS typically disappears within 48-72 hours, and is much less intense the more frequent the exercise routine is performed.

Some helpful advice

DOMS symptoms have been shown to be less intense in some individuals that follow this advice:

Warm Up – Start with a few stretches targeting the area of the body you will be working.  For example: Playing Tennis? Stretch legs, back and arms, Going Biking? Stretch legs and lower back.  Also do some “dynamic stretches” which mimic the movements you’re about to do.  For example: Going Jogging? Start by walking briskly for a few minutes.  Going Golfing? Start by holding a light hand weight and rotating your upper body from side to side.

Cool Down – Slow down the activity you are doing for the last few minutes before you just stop.  Don’t just sit or lie down, but continue to move by walking around a little, get a drink.  Don’t forget to stretch!  Stretching will help loosen up the muscles you just worked out, and help you get ready for your next workout.

Ice – Exercising naturally causes an inflammation response.  Ice will decrease the temperature in the area, and help decrease the inflammation.  Icing 10-20 minutes is plenty, and it can be done as needed throughout the day.

Massage – If you have the time and money, booking a massage will help the aching muscles.  A massage therapist can help work the toxins out of the sore muscles, and help them to relax.  Don’t have the time or money for a professional massage, try rubbing the area yourself.

Don’t Stop Moving – If the pain isn’t too bad do some light exercise, you can work the same muscles just use lighter weights, less reps, or less intensity.  Sitting or lying down for too long will just cause the sore muscles to stiffen up even more.

Multifidus Muscle Outdoor People

How to Strengthen Your Multifidus Muscles

The cause of chronic back pain is very complex, and most often the result of multiple contributing factors.  Despite varied diagnoses such as degenerative joint disease, disc herniations, spondylolisthesis, and others, medical research has shown that 80% of chronic low back pain is due at lest in part to weak trunk muscles.  Because these muscles play such an important role in stabilizing and support the spine, treatment programs aimed at strengthening the back have been highly successful.

The multifidus muscle is a group of muscles that run along the entire length of your spine, and attach to the joints of the vertebrae.  It is highly active in many everyday motions and activities, including standing still, bending forward, twisting to either side, picking or lifting things up, and walking.  It acts as a major stabilizer for the spine.  As it contracts, it stiffens the vertebrae, giving about two-thirds of the muscle stability for the spine.

Researchers have found that abnormalities in the multifidus muscle are common in patients suffering from chronic low back pain.  In summary:

  • There is a significant correlation between multifidus muscle wasting and the complaints of leg pain
  • MRI tests reveal that chronic low back pain patients have smaller, weaker multifidus muscles than healthy control subjects
  • Fatty infiltration of the multifidus muscle occurs over time
  • Exercise has been documented to increase both the size and strength of the multifidus muscle in patients with chronic low back pain
  • Abnormal EMGs have been consistently observed in the multifidus muscles of chronic back-pain patients, usually at just one level of the spine
  • Abnormal EMGs can also return to normal after exercise therapy

How to strengthen the Multifidus:

Your PDR physical and occupational therapists have been trained on the most effective techniques for strengthening the multifidus, and related low back and abdominal muscles.  MedX strengthening using the lumbar extension and rotary torso machines isolate the low back muscles for most preferred strength building.  Mat and ball exercises are also prescribed to continue strengthening at home, and for continued maintenance.  Your therapists will work with you to determine the appropriate exercises, as well as intensity and repetitions that will give you the best results.