As holistic therapists, we are always on the lookout for potential lifestyle factors that may be leading to pain and dysfunction with our clients yet it’s only in recent times has diet and supplements made a push to be recognised.
Chronic pain which is defined by a period longer than 3 months is often described as an inappropriate or excessive inflammatory response to a stimulus and is associated with a myriad of pain complaints seen by therapists around the world.
In 2007, the total cost of chronic pain in Australia was estimated at $34.3 billion. (Australian Bureau of Statistics) However old these statistics may seem, when contrasted to 1995 there was an 11% increase in the number of Australian adults who experienced chronic pain (57% to 68%).
This upward trend is only set to continue as medicine has become more successful in treating the issues with surgery and pharmaceuticals but fails to prevent it.
Medicine has also become great at treating chronic diet related diseases yet the prevalence of a Western style diet continues to create a larger diabetic, cardiovascular diseased, arthritic community.
The Western diet is an exaggeration of the industrial/agricultural age, made in bulk, highly processed to prolong shelf life, artificial sweeteners and fats to create ‘flavour’, hormone fed animals, the list goes on.
This diet is seen to be pro-inflammatory hence the connection created between inflammatory pain seen in the clinic and inflammatory disease within our culture.
You can test for inflammatory markers within the blood but the process and specific markers are beyond the scope of this blog so I won’t go into details, feel free to discuss with your GP if you wish.
Instead let’s look at a certain perspective of our nutrition, the Omega fats.
Omega fats are essential fatty for the body, meaning they must be obtained from the diet in the same way we have essential amino acids can be obtained from protein sources but our diet skews our intake towards a higher processed Omega-6 rich diet and minimal Omega-3 at ratios of 10:1 to 30:1.
Omega-3s are known to be anti-inflammatory while Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory.
Starting to see the links?
Low level inflammation derived from a highly processed diet is reversible and a great place to start is by taking fish oil to bring up your levels of Omega-3 fats.
Researched benefits of Omega-3s include the following:
- Brain development and function (in particular dementia)
- Eye health (Age-related macular degeneration)
- Cardiovascular disease & blood pressure
- Depression & mood disorders
- Weight management
- Type 2 diabetes
If there’s anything to take away from this post it is to start introducing some form of Omega-3s to your diet whether in whole food or as a supplement.
The benefits for your health exceed any doubts a person could have and for those of you out there in chronic pain, it could be a step in the right direction to being pain-free again.
This is a recent testimonial of a Richmond Remedial client with a history of back pain lasting longer than a year that was having positive progress with her pain through treatment alone but was a slow process. Within 2 weeks of taking fish oil, she noticed a big improvement.