Recent studies have shown that certain foods contain as much pain-fighting power as common pain medications like ibuprofen. Here are 6 of them to try (via AARP The Magazine):
- For back pain: red grapes. The resveratrol found in red grapes is a compound that blocks the enzymes that contribute to tissue degeneration, and preliminary research suggests it can also protect against the type of cartilage damage that causes back pain. To get your fill, snack on red grapes, or have a glass of wine. You can also get resveratrol in other fruits like blueberries and cranberries.
- For knee pain: ginger. In a six-week University of Miami study, patients with chronic knee pain reported less soreness upon standing after taking a ginger extract. Ginger relieves pain by blocking a key enzyme in the inflammatory process. To get the benefits, consume two to three teaspoons per day by adding it to a soup or stir fry, or drinking ginger-infused tea or fresh ginger ale made with real pieces of the root.
- For osteoarthiritis pain: soy. Soy’s pain-relieving secret lies in its isoflavones, plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties. Research has found that adding 40 grams of soy protein to your daily diet can reduce osteoarthritis pain by 30 percent or more within two to three weeks. Tofu, soy milk and edamame are all good sources of soy protein.
- For rheumatoid arthritis pain: turmeric. A recent Thai study has discovered that this common spice in Indian cooking works as effectively as ibuprofen for rhematoid arthritis relief because it inhibits a protein called NF-kB, which, when turned on, activates the body’s inflammatory response, leading to achy joints. Use turmeric to add spice and flavor to rice, vegetable and chicken dishes.
- For inflammation and post-workout pain: cherries. Cherries are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins that significantly reduce inflammation in the body, helping to ease pain from muscle damage (due to exercise) and osteoarthritis. Try eating 45 Bing cherries each day, or try a daily cup of tart cherry juice for the same effect. Not a cherry lover? Anthocyanins are also found in blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
- For pain due to migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and some autoimmune diseases: fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are great at reducing pain or inflammation associated with many conditions, including Crohn’s disease. Try eating two to four meals per week of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, trout or Atlantic mackerel. Don’t like fish? Take a supplement of EPA and DHA–the key omega-3 fats.