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Nutritional therapy for depression and chronic pain

Aug 27, 2008 - 3 comments

Chronic pain and depression here are ways to help take control. Sometimes that in itself helps us.

With chronic suffering, the systems involved do not realize that there should be an end to your pain you get caught in a cycle. The pain stimulates chemicals that cause inflammation, leading to other chemicals causing more pain – and on it goes. Unless we interrupt the pain, this continuous feedback loop between the nervous and immune systems repeatedly generates inflammation and pain. This is how we end up suffering from chronic pain.

Specific substances in the foods you eat can increase or decrease pain and inflammation. we can influence how much of which kinds of these chemicals we make by changing what we eat and the supplements we take. We make these chemicals – the pain causers as well as the pain killers – in our bodies.

Beware of food allergies that trigger inflammation and pain. It would be wise to try an elimination diet to determine the worst offenders for you. Wheat, corn, eggs, nuts, soy, citrus fruits and juices, and dairy products are the foods most likely to give you problems.

For Chronic pain Omega-3 can help.
Your body needs omega-3 (linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid), two essential fatty acids. They are called “essential” because your body cannot make them. They must be supplied by the foods you eat.
Consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids decreases the amount of omega-6 fatty acids your cells absorb. And “long-term” intake of omega-3 fatty acids may even decrease your long-term need for anti-inflammatory drugs.

First step to use only olive oil or canola oil. Go easy on meats, eggs, and milk. And get in the habit of eating more cold water fish, such as Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, flounder, halibut, mackerel, tuna, bluefish, herring, and striped bass. It’s your very best source of omega-3. Fish are not only brain food, they’re also “anti-pain” food. If you’re not a fish lover, you can also get some omega-3 from nuts, seeds, and wheat germ.

When you eat less meat, you’ll also reduce arachidonic acid, another substance that increases inflammation. The visible fat in pork are especially high in this pain-provoking acid.

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids help Depression
Since fat makes up about 60 percent of the human brain. You can keep your brain running smoothly with the right kinds of fats. It all depends on what you eat. Some experts believe fish fights depression because neurotransmitters, have an easier time moving through fat membranes made a more fluid omega-3 fat rather than any other kind of fat. This means your brain's important messages get delivered.

Since these essential fats are found in seafood you can see how fish can play a major role in brain function. They may even boost your mood.  New medical evidence suggests the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish - called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - can help drive away depression.

Even just fish oil capsules helped people with bipolar disorder, or manic depression, who go through periods of extreme highs and lows. The omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil may slow down neurons in your brain, much like the drug Lithium, which is used to treat manic depression. It has also been noted that depressed people had less omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells than healthy people. Interestingly enough It was also found that the more severe the depression, the less omega-3.  

Fish also has an effect on serotonin levels. If you don't have enough serotonin, you're more likely to be depressed, violent, and suicidal. If you have low levels of DHA, you also have low levels of serotonin. More DHA means more serotonin.
Most antidepressants, including Prozac, raise brain levels of serotonin. You might be doing the same thing just by eating fish.

To get your balance of omega-6 and omega-3, the obvious first step is to eat more fish. Balance is the key. Fatty fish, like salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna, offer the best omega-3, but all seafood contains at least some. Aim for at least two fatty fish meals a week.

Some people just do not like fish that is ok because you can get some omega-3 from flaxseed; walnuts; and collard, turnip, and mustard greens. Other good sources include dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, arugula, kale, Swiss chard, and certain types of lettuce.  A great source is fish oil supplements, which are available in health food stores, pharmacies and supermarkets. Just one caution -if you're taking blood thinners, check with your doctor before taking supplements since omega-3 also has blood-thinning effects.

Tryptophan can help fighting pain. Foods like turkey and dairy products contain a lot of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps your brain make serotonin, a natural pain buffer.

But these high-protein foods also contain a lot of other amino acids. The tryptophan has to compete with them for access to the brain. Fortunately, there is help for the tryptophan as it struggles to get inside the brain. By combining these proteins in moderate amounts with carbohydrates, like vegetables, fruits and grains, you help it move to the head of the line. A combination dish – like cheese and pasta.

Drinking more water to help fight pain. The water in the disks of your spinal column supports as much as 75 percent of the weight of the upper part of your body. As a matter of fact, water is an important element in all your cartilage. This protective material helps keep your bones from scarping painfully against each other when you move.

You need at least eight 6-ounce glasses of water a day. Drinks containing alcohol or caffeine draw water out of your body. And sugary drinks can cause you to put on weight, which can put pressure on painful joints.

Spice it up with Turmeric it can help fight pain. If you are hungry for relief from your aching joints, sit down to a dish of curry-flavored stew. The curcuminoids in the spice turmeric, the ingredient that give curry powder its yellow color, can be as powerful as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) in fighting inflammation. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in taking daily doses in the form of supplements.
What to Eat to help with pain:






Olive oil

What to Avoid:




Wheat germ

Canola oil

Foods containing omega-6 fatty acids, such as corn and soybean oils.

At least one study connects caffeine with chronic back pain.


If hurting has become a way of life for you, keeping a positive mental outlook will give you some relief You can help depression by eatting very simular foods.

Helping control  depression with  B Vitamins

Vitamin B6 works by keeping your brain's neurotransmitters in balance. These chemicals control whether you feel depressed, anxious, or on a steady keel.   Depression can also signal a deficiency in thiamin, also known as vitamin B1.

Eating these fro depression

Sweet potato,  spinach, asparagus, avocados, navy beans and bananas are particularly plant sources rich in folate and vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. Most fruits, many  vegetables have good amounts as well.   Deficiencies in these two B vitamins, experts believe, can actually bring on the symptoms of depression and high folate levels can help defeat it.  

Chicken, liver, and other meats to feed your brain vitamin B6.
Stick with whole-wheat breads, meats, black beans, and watermelon to punch up your thiamin levels. These foods might help you feel more clearheaded and energetic.

Fighting depression with Iron
A sour mood is a major symptom of a lack of iron. Iron-deficiency anemia often attacks pre-menopausal women, people who regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) and others at risk for chronic blood loss. It's a good idea to visit your doctor if you suspect you're anemic. Over two billion people suffer from this condition and even more live with less-serious iron deficiency. Other symptoms include pale skin, sluggishness, and trouble concentrating.

To get more iron in your diet,  With Meat the darker the cut, the more iron it has.  For vegetarians, stick with legumes, fortified cereals, quinoa, kale and other green leafy vegetables. Remember to take  vitamin C, like lemon juice. The vitamin C will help your body absorb the iron.

Selenium also helps with depression.
You probably heard selenium fights cancer, but you might not know the mineral banishes bad moods, too. People who do not eat enough selenium-rich foods tend to be grumpier than people with a high dietary intake, according to recent research. Eat some high-test selenium foods - like seafood, poultry, mushrooms, sea vegetables, and wheat - and feel the effects for yourself.
Selenium also helps with pain

it does many things, supports immune function, neutralizes certain poisonous substances, and may help combat arthritis

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388470 tn?1251869883
by TooManyOxyz, Aug 28, 2008
Excellent information, makes alot of sense. Four days clean from opiates. Used mostly for chronic pain from a total shoulder replacement and addiction(to jumpstart my day.)

Gratefully, DON

631581 tn?1224848261
by january43, Sep 28, 2008
Hi--I'm curious where you got this information?  I'd like to read more and find out who wrote it as they seem to have a lot of good ideas.
appreciate it

401095 tn?1351395370
by worried878, Oct 27, 2008
not sure where i got this one..i google and learn and sometimes a topic comes up on the forum so i go learn more about it..just came accross it...tons of information on the net....

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