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Salmon, Sardines, Herring

salmonSore neck? Joint pain? Achy back? Filling your diet with fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury have been shown to relieve some of these common ailments, back pain in particular. Taking fish oil supplements–1,200 mg or more of EPA and DHA per day–has been found to reduce back and neck pain, according to one study in the Surgical Neurology journal.

You see, healthy backs contain blood vessels at the edge of spinal disks which transport important nutrients to those disks. According to Neal D. Barnard, MD, and author of Foods That Fight Pain, a sign of an unhealthy back is when blood flow becomes diminished, which result in the disks loosing their source of key nutrients, like oxygen, and thus they begin to degenerate. Omega-3s can actually aid in improving blood flood and tampering inflammation in the body’s blood vessels and nerves.

Cherries

bowl of cherriesAnd I’m not talking about maraschino. Cherries have the ability to aid in managing arthritis and muscle pain, in particular, due to a key compound found within them: anthocyanins. The same phytonutrients that give them their signature color, the powerful antioxidant also blocks inflammation and inhibits pain enzymes, essentially working as an aspirin would. Still don’t buy it? A study in the Journal of Nutrition details how participants who ate a bowl of Bing Sweet Cherries for breakfast reduced a major marker of inflammation by 25 percent.

Edamame

edamameArthritis pain is no joke, and the damage done to joints, cartilage and bones is irreversible. However, a study from Oklahoma State University found that participants suffering from osteoarthritis who were given 40 grams of soy protein (1/4 cup of edamame) each day for three months showed a reduction in pain in comparison to the alternative group, who were given milk-based protein, who showed no reduction in pain. There is hope yet!

Yogurt

yogurtStomach pain is synonymous with irritable bowel syndrome, which affects approximately 20 percent of the American population. One way of reducing that pain is by ingesting several bacterial strains found in yogurt, like L. acidophilus and B. infantis, which have been found to reduce bloating, inflammation, and pain.

However, be careful, as the yogurt shelf is full of tempting flavors. Stick to brands that contain probiotics, or “live and active cultures” to ensure you’re getting those essential, pain-relieving bacterial strains.

Cranberry Juice

Stomach ulcers, while common (an estimated 4 million American’s have peptic ulcer disease) can be very painful. While antibiotics are the easy cure, drinking cranberry juice regularly can prevent them altogether. cranberries and cranberry juiceA study actually found that participants who drank just under one cup of cranberry juice per day for a period of three weeks eliminated nearly 20 percent of all cases of H. pylori infection–without the help of any prescription drugs or antibiotics.

Ulcers are created as a result of a pathogen called H. pylori, which strips the protective linking of the stomach and/or small intestine. Cranberry juice contains ingredients that have the ability to block H. pylori from damaging the stomach lining. However, make sure to get the actual, natural juice, and not the sugar-filled cocktail, which is inflammatory.

Turmeric

turmericAnother age-old healer, this curry spice has been known to relieve pain for years, especially for achy joints and inflammation of the colon, or colitis. This is because of its anti-inflammatory properties, a result of one of its ingredients: curcumin. “Turmeric can protect the body from tissue destruction and joint inflammation and also preserve good nerve cell function,” said Peter Abaci, MD, and medical director of the Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center in Los Gatos, CA.