by: Henry Olders, P. Eng., MD, FRCPC
While inflammation serves an important purpose in helping us survive and recover from injury, pain from inflammation can also cause a lot of misery and suffering. So, to decrease pain, what can we do to keep inflammation under control?
The short take
Eat more of:
- Cruciferous vegetables (eg broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, kohlrabi, bok choy, radishes)
- Vegetables containing inulin (eg plantain, burdock root, chicory root, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, leek, onion)
- Konjac noodles
- Fatty fish (Salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, and herring)
- Spices: turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, hot chili pepper
- Dark chocolate
- Bitter melon
- Black rice, purple cauliflower, purple corn, blue potatoes
- Slowly cooled foods
Eat less of:
- Animal-based foods
- Wheat-based products
- Sweet vegetables (carrots, yams)
Drink more of:
- Green tea
- Yerba maté, rooibos
- Red wine (resveratrol)
Try to eliminate:
- Ultra-processed foods
- Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup!)
- Other sweeteners (agave syrup, honey)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fat replacers
Do more of:
- Vigorous exercise
- Get out of bed at the same time every day (no exceptions!)
- Intermittent fasting
- Light at night (especially blue light)
- Handling thermal paper (eg, receipts, tickets)
- Short sleep
- Shift work
- Most vitamins and supplements
- Smoothies and juices
- Vitamin B12 (if over 50)
- Fish oil capsules
- Vitamin D
In certain cases, ask your doctor to prescribe:
And don’t stress about stress!
Following these guidelines will help reduce pain from chronic inflammation, but also acute pain (for example, backache the day after shoveling snow). Bonus: you may also lose weight, if overweight is an issue for you. Finally, you will be reducing your risk of serious conditions including cancer, diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.
In these pandemic times, keep in mind that severe COVID-19 illness is caused by inflammation!
My name is Henry Olders, and I’m a retired geriatric psychiatrist as well as a computer systems engineer. A committed Do-It-Yourselfer (DIYer), I decided to go to medical school after working for a number of years in engineering, partly motivated by a desire to learn to look after my own health and that of my family and friends.
In 2012, I changed my diet radically, from a low-carb approach to one emphasizing methionine restriction. Prior to that, I had been gradually gaining weight year by year, until peaking in 2011 at 185 lb. At this weight, I had severe problems with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and I knew I needed to seriously lose weight. Even a very strict low-carb approach was no longer working, so I researched alternatives. Aware of the caloric restriction approach to increasing healthy lifespan, I found a large body of work on dietary methionine restriction as another effective way of extending healthy longevity, but without the continuous hunger of caloric restriction.
My wife and I embarked on this new diet program, researching foods low in methionine and recipes and meal plans to take advantage of these foods. Not only did I lose weight rapidly, I discovered that this diet decreased inflammation and helped cure two medical conditions that had caused me considerable pain and difficulty for many years.
Using the title “Why we grow old and die, and what to do about it” I’ve given presentations about this approach to groups of clinicians as well as lay people. After these talks, I am asked to give more specific information about this approach, and produced a “handout” that people could access online.
And while many people are interested in being healthy, living longer is not really on their radar screen. However, many individuals suffer from some sort of painful condition, or have family or friends that do. This essay is addressed to those people who would like more control over the chronic inflammatory conditions causing their pain.
To make it easier to digest I have broken the essay into bite-size instalments (puns intended!) which I posted, one instalment per day, on my website, starting on 25 December 2021. For those of the Christian persuasion, consider them gifts for the 12 days of Christmas! Here’s a link to the first instalment.
Happy reading, and keep well!
- Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
- Instalment 1: The nitty-gritty