The Paleo diet is an eating plan that was designed by Loran Cordain, who specializes in nutrition and the benefits of proper dieting to the human body and overall good health. This diet takes a leaf from our human ancestors who mainly consumed animal proteins and naturally occurring fruits, vegetables and berries, and although some may argue that this was a primitive diet model that does not provide the body with sufficient nutrients, recent studies have began to prove otherwise.
The Paleo diet recommends eating organically raised animal proteins, lean meats, vegetables rich in fibre and healthy fats from seeds and nuts, which was primarily the diet before controlled agriculture and processed foods were discovered.
The main inspiration behind this diet was the increasing concern over the last decade that the genetically modified foods and additives in our foods are increasingly compromising human beings health and might be the cause of recurring and worsening health conditions. The Paleo diet is therefore seen as a food revolution that could potentially improve the health of this generation and generations to come.
Although the Paleo diet is not a one step fix to any health or medical conditions, research together with testimonials have shown that including this diet into ones lifestyle can greatly improve a person’s health as well as assist in the treatment of various ailments and disorders. One of the conditions is chronic pain.
Using The Primal Principles To Reduce Chronic Pain..
Chronic pain is an inflammatory disorder affecting muscles, joints or bones that causes either sharp or dull pain that lasts more than six months or in severe cases, even years. This pain may be steady, intermittent without any cause. It is caused by a number of factors including prolonged injuries, excessive exercise or sports, high levels of stress, insufficient sleep, food allergies, malnutrition, hormonal changes, cancer or autoimmune diseases such as diabetes. This condition can be quite uncomfortable and cause a person severe distress.
Through several scientific breakthroughs, researchers have over the years discovered that although chronic pain may be nociceptive (caused by a physical stimulus) or neuropathic (caused by an issue with the nervous system) the common factor is inflammation.
The inflammation of muscles, nerves and joints is what inherently causes chronic pain. Therefore it is important to minimize this inflammation in order to remedy this condition. Doctors and medical physicians have become more apprehensive about prescribing strong pain relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs to patients suffering from chronic pain because they usually have adverse side effects in the long run such a ulcers, high dependency and addiction.
Studies carried out on mice have further shown that chronic pain is often associated with poor functioning mitochondria in the cell which is responsible for the breaking down of proteins, carbohydrates and absorption of vitamins which are key factors in the repair of damaged tissue and minimising inflammation which in turn causes chronic pain.
It’s No Replacement For Pain Medication!
Though the Paleo diet has been seen to be an effective therapy for chronic pain, it is advised that it should not be followed in lieu of medication, but should be a lifestyle change to supplement a physicians recommended treatment regimen. The Paleo diet has several recommendations that have shown to help reduce and potentially eliminate chronic pain in the body.
1. Anti-inflammatory foods. The Paleo diet recommends eating leafy vegetables like kale, fruits like oranges and pineapples and starchy vegetables like yams and sweet potatoes. These foods are rich in antioxidants and glucose which helps the body to repair damaged tissue and muscle fibers which may be the cause of the chronic pain especially after strenuous physical activity or exercise.
2. Foods rich in magnesium and other minerals. Including into your diet foods that are rich in magnesium such as spinach, black beans, almonds and avocados are highly recommended by the Paleo diet because magnesium helps in the digestions of food necessary for proper muscle and nerve development, controls muscle contraction and prevents inflammation especially in the digestive tract. The Paleo diet also foods like bananas, kale, lean meats and berries are rich in other essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium which increases blood circulation to minimize retention of fluids that may cause discomfort and chronic pain, iron which transports oxygen effectively to the muscles and zinc which increases normal nerve response. Deficiency in these minerals and especially magnesium could result in muscle spasms, digestive distress and muscle aches.
3. Healthy Fats. The Paleo diet excludes processed and unhealthy fats that are found in animal fats, processed cooking oils and eggs from ones diet. Instead it recommends the intake of heathy fats found in olive oil, omega 3, salmon and nuts. These fats act as anti inflammatories and antioxidants and are good for maintaining a healthy nervous system.
4. Proteins. Organic or grass fed animal products are rich in amino acids, vitamin B, magnesium and iron and are recommended by the Paleo diet because they enable the body to build back fatigued and damaged muscles and tissue fibres.
5. Sufficient sleep and changes in movement. The Paleo diet recommends that a person suffering from chronic pain should ensure that they receive at least eight hours of sleep a night to allow the body to rest and the muscles to repair themselves after physical activity which may be a cause of the pain. Further, it is not appropriate to come from a state of long duration of inactivity and dive into excessive exercise because the body will not be able to withstand the extreme changes that may cause muscular and joint pains. The Paleo diet therefore recommends that a person have sessions of controlled and manageable exercise regiments.
The Paleo diet is recommended for a generally healthy lifestyle and it is advised that if you are suffering from chronic pain it is important to do further research into this diet in consultation with your physician for the most effective benefits and outcomes of the diet. However, the testimonials and success stories are proof enough for me to recommend the same to anyone seeking some relief from chronic pain.
If you want more information on the Paleo Diet and the primal principles we apply to our clients lives and our own lives, check out the beginners guide to Paleo.