How Natural Is Your Diet? It May be Linked to Chronic Pain

by on October 14th, 2011 at 7:00 am

Does your kitchen contain more processed foods like sugar-laden sweets and salty chips than fresh, natural fruits, veggies, and whole grains? According to a New York Times report, Americans purchase 787 pounds of processed food versus 602 pounds of fresh food annually.

If you suffer from chronic pain, a poor diet may be partially to blame. New studies show worsened symptoms for certain conditions, including fibromyalgia, migraines, and arthritis, for participants who consumed a high amount of artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and other food additives.

In addition, processed foods offer much less nutritional value, increasing the glycemic index of carbohydrates. This in turn leads to higher spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Cut out the additives

The following list includes a few common additives you should try and avoid or limit consumption of:

  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame and other sugar substitutes, which are a common ingredient in diet soda, has been linked to fibromyalgia and migraines.
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Studies have shown that some people have intolerance for this sweetener, often used in packaged foods, which can cause chronic abdominal pain and other digestive disorders.
  • MSG. This flavor-enhancer has been linked to chronic pain, as glutamate (a component of MSG), can destroy nerve endings when excessively consumed, according to Barbara Mendez, MS, RPh, a pharmacist and nutritional consultant in New York. Be cautious when reading labels, as this ingredient can also be named glutamic acid, yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, sodium caseinate, and autolyzed yeast.
  • Preservatives. While chemicals keep food from spoiling, they can also cause harm to health. Baked goods are particularly high in preservatives, so try to opt for fresher alternatives, like swapping lettuce for bread slices, or baking your own.


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