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Health Tips

Fighting Pain with Food: Eating for Pain Relief

By 22/08/2016May 23rd, 2017No Comments

Feelings of pain can affect all of us from acute, short sharp episodes to chronic daily pain it rarely discriminates! In fact, pain is highly subjective and has both sensory and emotional aspects. To experience relief, we need to assist the body to feel at ease both physically and emotionally. Whether pain is triggered by posture, stress, injury, chronic disease, hormones or exercise looking towards diet for relief may benefit all kinds of pain. Certain foods contain compounds, which may promote an anti-inflammatory action in the body, prevent the breakdown of pain relieving chemicals and even assist to heal the body. Here are some nutrients commonly cited as pain relieving which can be easily added to the diet by consuming foods rich in such nutrients.

Vitamin E

Action: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Foods: Almonds, beef, egg yolk, sunflowers and wheat germ

Try: an almond milk based smoothie with added 1-2 tsp wheat germ


Action: an essential amino acid in the production of serotonin, our “feel good’ chemical messenger, helping to put the body at ease

Foods: Banana, dairy, legumes, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts and oats

Try: sliced banana drizzled with peanut butter and sesame seeds as a snack

Olive Oil

Action: Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action

Use: drizzle on salads, use in cooking and for marinating meats/fish

Try: drizzling steamed vegetables with olive oil and sprinkling with crushed walnuts

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Action: Encourages anti-inflammatory action within the body

Foods: fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), walnuts, chia seeds

Try: crusting salmon with a mix of chia seeds & walnuts and pan-frying or baking


Action: Encourages anti-inflammatory action within the body

Try: grind up and sprinkle of porridge, add to smoothies or bliss ball mixtures

Probiotic Rich foods

Action: good bacteria supports gut health and immunity, which may assist in reducing overall inflammation

Try: Yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, miso


Action: Helps the body make feel good chemicals to overcome sensation of pain

Foods: Almonds, avocado, banana, brown rice, cottage cheese, fish, lentils, whey protein

Try: mashed avocado and cottage cheese on sprouted brown rice bread for breakfast or a light lunch

Herbs and Spices

Turmeric: contains the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin

Ginger: potent anti-inflammatory and may promote feelings of warmth by improving circulation

Hot peppers: contain the warming compound Capsaicin which assists with blood flow at the site of pain and reducing pain signalling

Try: Golden milk, ginger tea or adding ground up hot peppers to stews and casseroles


Relaxation and calming down the nervous system also may play a role in pain relief, some nice techniques to help promote parasympathetic nervous system activation (rest and digest mode) are:

  • meditation
  • walking in nature
  • deep breathing
  • yoga
  • cooking
  • reading a book