How food impacts inflammation and pain (and what you can do about it)


In this monthly column, courtesy of Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, we will examine how food impacts inflammation and pain, and what steps can be taken to stay healthy.

What we put on our plates matters

Ever suffer from a nagging muscle sprain, ongoing back pain, or achy joints, and wonder why it lingers? It may be due to a high level of ongoing, whole-body inflammation. While it is normal to see inflammatory signs and symptoms such as pain, heat, redness, and swelling after an injury, if they persist after appropriate medical care and time, it may be due to systemic, chronic inflammation. Although not intuitive, our fuel including our food, activity, sleep, and stress level, drives our overall inflammation level. Food is a key component and inflammatory foods can keep our bodies trapped in a state of chronic inflammation and pain.

The food-pain connection is undeniable

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is sad and making us sicker. It is composed of inflammatory, processed foods high in added sugar, added salt, and saturated fats, and low in nutrients, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It increases painful inflammation. The antidote is an eating plan that is just the opposite: rich in vegetables, fruits, and legumes, and low in processed foods, excess sugars, saturated fats, and extra salt. This approach reduces overall painful inflammation and has been found to reduce joint, back, and muscle pain.

Dr. Saloni Sharma

A plan to lower painful inflammation

A complete, anti-inflammatory approach to living and aging better starts with food. This includes eating more pain-fighting foods such as high-fiber foods, probiotic fermented foods, catechins, and powerhouse spices. Consider adding some of these foods to your plate this week to start reducing inflammation and pain.

Dr. Saloni Sharma is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and Medical Director of the Orthopaedic Integrative Health Center at Rothman Orthopaedics. For information on Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, visit

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