Health Tips > Nutrition Bites > Seven Foods that Fight Pain

Seven Foods that Fight Pain

View All Section Pages

Seven Foods that Fight Pain

Do you suffer from aches and pains? Before reaching for pills, seek out some common, health-promoting foods to fight the pain. Take comfort in a more natural approach in relieving arthritis, muscle soreness, achy joints, headaches and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). 

Arthritis and Muscle Pain, Cherries
Dark cherries contain high amounts of antioxidants called anthocyanins that act like aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories by reducing the body’s pain signals. With nutrition in mind, skip drinking cherry juice which is calorie-rich and full of sugar in favor of eating the fruit for more fiber and fewer calories.

Tip: Enjoy a small bowl of sweet cherries for dessert. Summertime is the perfect time to pick up a bag of fresh cherries; in the cooler months throw some frozen ones into a fruit smoothie.

Neck and Joint Pain, Fatty fish (salmon, herring and sardines)
Oily fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are known to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory action works on pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, migraines and some autoimmune diseases. Other good sources of omega-3 include halibut, light tuna, and lake trout. If you’re not a fan of fish, you might consider taking a supplement, but always check with your physician first.

Tip: Plan your menus to include fish at least twice a week to reap these benefits. 

Headaches and Post-Workout Pain, Coffee/Caffeine
Caffeine is found in many painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen because it enhances the effect of these medicines.  On its own, caffeine can reduce post-workout soreness. Research found that “moderate” doses of caffeine in two cups of coffee can have this beneficial effect. 

Tip: Drink 2 cups of coffee a day. Add fat-free milk for bonus protein and calcium.

IBS, Yogurt
Probiotics are live bacteria in yogurt that can fight stomach pain, bloating and inflammation associated with IBS. There are specific yogurt strains that have this affect. Shop for a brand that is marked “live and active cultures,” including Dannon® Activia, Yakult® and Dannon® DanActive.

Tip: Grab a 6-ounce container of fat-free yogurt for a daily snack.

Osteoarthritis knee pain, Soy
The anti-inflammatory plant hormones in soy’s isoflavones have been found to cut osteoarthritis associated with knee pain by at least 30 percent.  It takes several weeks to see results.

Tip: Steam edamame in the microwave for a quick satisfying snack or toss some on a salad for a great source of vegetarian protein.

Muscle Pain After Exercise, Ginger
Research has found ginger to be effective in reducing exercise-induced pain by blocking an enzyme that drives inflammation. The recommended dose of this flavorful herb is two to three teaspoons a day.

Tip: Add fresh ginger to beverages, try ginger tea or add a few teaspoons of ginger to stir-fry meals.

Joint Inflammation, Turmeric
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory substance in turmeric that can preserve nerve cell function as well as protect the body against joint inflammation and tissue destruction.

Tip: Sprinkle turmeric on whole grains, vegetables and salad dressings.

Take advantage of some of these natural pain remedies and reap the benefits of their “whole” food nutrients as well.

Article provided by Elana Zimelman, RDN, LD, CDE, registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Cooper Clinic.