Part 2: Is Your Pain What You Eat?

Part 2:   

Is Your Pain What You Eat?                                       

By Megan Doyle, MS, OTR/L, FPS, Cert-APHPT

Occupational Therapist, Fellow of Pain Science,

and Certified Applied Prevention Health Promotion Therapist

And Stephanie Wakeman, PT, DPT, Cert-APHPT

Certified Applied Prevention Health Promotion Therapist

Part 1 taught us that what we eat influences our gut and our pain.  Accumulation of fatty tissue is correlated with an increase in low grade inflammation(1) and consumption of ultra-processed foods results in more calorie consumption, especially simple carbohydrates, that eventually leads to more fatty tissue in the body(2) and more inflammation. So, how do you break the cycle?  I’m sure you already know…..


Eat more fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and some herbs and spices! In theory this sounds easy, but let’s face it; It’s easier and more tempting to open that bag of chips than it is to clean, cut and eat your way through a platter of broccoli and carrots. Let me give you something to chew on….


  • Consider a commitment to add 1 additional vegetable to your diet each day.  If you already eat 2 servings of veggies each day; bump it up to 3. This veggie can be raw or roasted/sauteed in olive oil. 


  • Spice it up! Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and garlic all offer anti-inflammatory properties and improve the taste and satisfy cravings for flavor. 


  • Crunch away! Add a handful of healthy nuts with just a touch of salt to satisfy that salty, crunchy craving. Remember, with nuts, a little goes a long way!


How colorful can your plate be? Phytonutrients are the compounds that give fruits and veggies their color and they have been shown to be potent disease fighting agents!(3) Just don’t peel those skins! Instead, scrub ‘em clean and get an extra dose of fiber and anti-inflammatory goodness. 


Lastly, don’t deprive yourself of those snacks you’ve come to enjoy. Just cut back and add in a fruit or veggie here and there.  Slowly, your palate will change, and you’ll start to crave all the delicious flavors of nature without feeling deprived. Over time, the added benefit of the plant foods will reduce the systemic inflammation, improve your gut health, calm the nerves, and decrease pain.  


1: Francisco, V., Pérez, T., Pino, J., López, V., Franco, E., Alonso, A., Gonzalez-Gay, M. A., Mera, A., Lago, F., Gómez, R., & Gualillo, O. (2018). Biomechanics, obesity, and osteoarthritis. The role of adipokines: When the levee breaks. In Journal of Orthopaedic Research.


2: Hall, K. D., Ayuketah, A., Brychta, R., Cai, H., Cassimatis, T., Chen, K. Y., Chung, S. T., Costa, E., Courville, A., Darcey, V., Fletcher, L. A., Forde, C. G., Gharib, A. M., Guo, J., Howard, R., Joseph, P. V., McGehee, S., Ouwerkerk, R., Raisinger, K., … Zhou, M. (2019). Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell Metabolism.





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