Have you ever had someone tell you to play through the pain? It is so much easier said than done. I played a lot of sports as a kid and I hated having someone tell me that line. Turns out there may actually be a reason behind it. Did you know that our bodies release tons of hormones constantly? In fact, because our bodies are constantly releasing different hormones it can be extremely easy for our hormones to become unbalanced. Not to mention any toxins we are exposed to both externally and internally can cause the release of these hormones to fluctuate at random. Unfortunately, this can cause us to feel as though we are on a constant roller coaster ride. While rides can be fun it is nice to know we can get off them whenever we want to.
The Ups & Downs Of Life
Because our hormones are in a constant state of fluctuation it helps to know which hormones our bodies produce to counter which. I am a firm believer in the more we know the better we can work with our bodies rather than against them. In lue of the fact that pain is one of the ways our bodies alert us to the presence of a problem, we will never really be able to remove our ability to register pain. To be honest, you don’t want to. There are cases where individuals have been born without the ability to feel pain and as a by product they have to be monitored regularly. When you cannot feel pain you remove your bodies most reliable communication.
Your Body’s Alert System
Most people do not register the majority of signs and symptoms until they get to the point where they prevent that individual from continuing their daily routine. By this point there are a number of issues that have sprung up from not dealing with the initial small problems. The more intense the pain is, the bigger the health issue tends to be. When a health issue arrives in our bodies inflammation activates in an effort to transport our bodies first responders (the white blood cells). This inflammation can actually intensify the sensation of pain. Because of this inflammation is one of the most common precursors to pain. That is why people who rely on an anti-inflammatory diet experience less pain.
Once our bodies get to work on addressing the underlying issue our bodies produce hormones to help relieve the pain and inflammation. One of the main hormones that helps to reduce pain Endorphins. There are 20 different types of Endorphins that our body produces. Endorphins are endogenous opioid neuropeptides, which is a fancy way of saying that they produce a euphoric sensation similar to opioids. The primary function of Endorphins is to inhibit the communication of pain signals. They do this by binding to the receptor itself and inhibiting the release of the neurotransmitter Gamma-Aminobutyric-Acid (GABA) which, in turn, increases the production and release of Dopamine. Endorphins play a major role in inhibiting pain and a major role in the experience of pleasure.
Endorphins like Dopamine can be very addictive. One of the most common ways people naturally produce Endorphins is through exercise. In fact, Endorphins are more commonly known as the “runner’s high” hormone. The second most common way to increase the production of Endorphins is with foods. Have you ever watched that show my 600 pound life and wondered how they could let it go so far? Most people don’t understand that the foods we eat, especially the processed foods, can be highly addictive. In fact, they are designed to be that way. Hormones like Endorphins, Serotonin, and Dopamine are produced directly through the foods we eat. All three of those hormones create feelings of joy and pleasure. So, it can be a slippery slope when you are eating foods that are artificial.
When we consume foods that are highly processed it can be difficult for our bodies to identify the chemical compounds that are made to mimic the foods we know. In situations where our bodies are unable to identify a substance from friend or foe they are flagged, wrapped in fat tissue, and stored to be dealt with at a later date. This excess fat can cause our hormones to go even more out of control. An increase in fat tissue produces more Leptin (which tells us we are full) and a drop in Ghrelin (which tells us when to eat). Unfortunately, too much Leptin or fat can lead to Leptin resistance which makes it so we do not recognize the high levels of Leptin and increase production of Ghrelin. Excess fat can also produce a spike in Cortisol (stress) levels and a drop in Melatonin (sleep regulation) levels.
Nutritional Pain Management
Not to worry, there is always hope and Mother Nature always has our backs. The following is a list of foods that can help reduce pain by increasing the production of Endorphins:
- Anti-inflammatory Diet
- Dark Chocolate
- Hot Peppers
Get Your Blow Flowing
A common theme that appears throughout these foods is the fact that all of them increase circulation and aid in the reduction of inflammation. Dark chocolate also improves blood flow to the brain and contains Serotonin and Endorphin promoting compounds. Peppers on the other hand contain Capsaicin which helps stimulate and then decrease the intensity of pain signals in the body. Grapes can help reduce blood pressure which can reduce pain experienced during a migraine. Strawberries contain potassium which can help regulate blood pressure and prevent strokes. Ginseng can counteract stress, reduce muscle damage and improve endurance.
Spice it Up
There are some individuals that prefer to slowly transition into making nutritional changes. These individuals have an easier time adding in herbs and spices to test the waters. The following is a list of herbs and spices that can help reduce pain in the body:
Again, we see a common theme with these herbs and spices. They too help increase circulation throughout the body and reduce inflammation. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde which helps increase the production of Endorphins and Progesterone while decreasing the production of Testosterone. Garlic contains Allicin, which is a hepercholesterolemic, hypolipidemic and antihypertensive all of which help to reduce built up pressure in the body. Clove is packed with antioxidants and is a good source of minerals like manganese, omega-3, fiber, and vitamins. Peppermint contains menthol which can improve circulation and relieve inflammation. Ginger contains magnesium, chromium, and zinc, which are known to help improve blood flow in the body.
Because we are all different and not everything will work the same for all of us. It is important to have as many options as possible, especially when it comes to pain management. Another great option for individuals struggling with pain is the use of essential oils. The following is a list of essential oils that can help reduce and manage pain:
A Little Goes A Long Way
One of the best things about the use of essential oils is that for individuals who are restrictive on dietary changes and are unable to use the more physical pain relieving options still have choices. Essential oils are extremely concentrated. It is important to keep this in mind when using them topically, internally, and diffusing. A little goes a long way. As always, prior to making any changes in diet or incorporating essential oils into your daily routine it is important to talk to your primary doctor. Most people are taking at least one medication or more. With that in mind it is important to remember that what we take internally can affect the medications we are on.
Find Out What Works For You
As with most, if not all of my posts, I do my best to provide you with a recipe that provides you with the ability to apply your newly acquired knowledge. If you would like me to create something that is more congruent with your daily routine I am more than willing to help out in any way I can. All you have to do is let me know.
Need a Helping Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!