With over 10,000 GP consultations in the UK regarding musculoskeletal problems every year, there’s certainly a problem that needs to be addressed. For many, these problems can cause long term chronic issues, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Luckily, there are ways to manage musculoskeletal pain offering pain relief for your back, shoulders, and other joints. One such method is to look into dietary changes.
Looking to up your protein intake? Add foods such as beef, fish, and eggs to your plate to up your protein intake. For vegan diets, make sure you’re eating enough pulses (lentil, beans, and soya products). There are protein supplements out there too in the form of drinks and snack bars.
It’s important that you stay aware of your calorie and carbohydrate intake. Consuming excess calories by eating unhealthy foods, or overeating, can cause weight gain. This can then lead to excess weight carried around the waist and obesity — both of which can make musculoskeletal pain worse. This is due to extra pressure on joints and inflammation.
Why does your body get inflamed? In general, it’s part of the body’s immune response to fight infection. But, there are cases when inflammation doesn’t shut down — this becomes chronic inflammation. It is this which is the underlying cause of many diseases, health problems, and pain.
Refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and trans fats can all cause problems too. Monitoring calories and eating the appropriate amount can therefore lead to weight maintenance or weight reduction which could help musculoskeletal issues. In fact, one study found that weight reduction of more than 10% has the potential to lead to important changes in pain and function.
To keep healthy, our bodies need omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, they’re not made by the body, so we need to get them from our diet.
Notably, studies have shown how omega-3, in high doses, can be very effective in treating conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Again, this is an anti-inflammatory which deals with the issues mentioned earlier. Where can omega-3 be found? Omega-3 can be found in oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), calamari, olive oil, and some plants and nuts. A mixture of these things should ensure that you’re getting enough of the fatty acid.
Our health balances on us getting enough vitamins from our diet. But some musculoskeletal conditions are a result of vitamin deficiencies, and certain vitamins can keep pain at bay.
For example, vitamin D impacts calcium absorption, which in turn, promotes bone growth. Eggs are a great source of vitamin D and are easy to incorporate into your diet. Another way to up your intake is with safe levels of sun exposure.
As a boost to cartilage metabolism and cell survival, vitamin K is vital. Get your intake of vitamin K through green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and beans.
Vitamin B is another critical vitamin you need. One benefit of this vitamin is that it keeps amino acid homocysteine under control. High levels of this could be linked to lower bone density and therefore musculoskeletal issues. Increase your intake of vitamin B through chicken, turkey, fish, oats, and more.
There’s an abundance of ways in which a change in diet can help with musculoskeletal pain. Always speak to your GP and nutritionist before changing your diet and for more advice on how the foods you eat can ease chronic pains.