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Managing Chronic Pain and Depression Through Proper Nutrition

Posted By: Dr. Singh

It’s no surprise that when we eat well, we feel better about ourselves too. Our bodies require nutrients and vitamins in order to function to the best of its ability and make us feel and look our best. One of the many issues with chronic pain, is that sometimes, the effort required to make these types of meals outweighs the benefits.

What good is a meal if you’ve exhausted all of your strength into just making it? We tend to eat poorly because we’d rather spend the little effort our pain allows us to have into other aspects of our lives.

It’s not always easy to remember, but eating well is crucial to the management of your pain and depression; even making a few small changes to your diet can make a world of difference. Optimise your body’s natural ability to improve your mood and lessen depression by increasing your body’s own natural anti-depressants.

Aim for a Balanced Diet

Specifically of protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and lots of water. A high protein diet will leave you fuller for longer, and therefore you’ll be less likely to feel a dip in your mood. Complex carbohydrates such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal and whole grain breads can boost serotonin levels without a crash, and of course, you need water to stay hydrated to ensure your body can transfer the nutrients efficiently.

Also, focus on making your diet full of the mood-boosting tryptophan. This is what your body converts into serotonin. Foods such as milk, tofu, salmon, miso and broccoli are good sources, as well as bananas, cottage cheese, turkey, fish, avocados.

Take B Vitamins

Vitamin B deficiency is particularly associated with depression. The deficiency of these crucial nutrients are linked to a decline in mental or emotional state, depression, fatigue, confusion, memory loss, apathy, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, sleep disturbances and/or loss of appetite. Vitamins B3, B6, C, biotin, zinc and folic acid in particular are all needed for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin to take place.

Get more B vitamins into your diet by taking a B-Complex vitamin (you can find them at your local drug store), or eat more leafy greens, beans, nuts, seeds and eggs.

Get in Good Fats

Foods that are rich in omega-3 fats, such as EPA and DHA can give you a great mood boost. Fatty fish and cold water fish are a great source of these nutrients. You can also pick up fish oil at your local drug store.

It’s important to eat small, regular meals of natural, unprocessed foods at the very most every 4 hours. Never jump into yoyo or fad diets; all that does is deprive your body of the necessary nutrients which alters your brain chemistry, all for temporary weight loss.

It’s hard to prepare meals and eat well when you are in pain or depressed, but being aware of what your body needs to function to its best physical and mental ability, and making these minor dietary changes can display a big difference over time. You can still eat well in spite of pain and limitations, and make your symptoms more manageable

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