Skip to content

4 Best Eating Habits To Reduce Chronic Pain

Nutrition experts share tips that can help reduce inflammation and fight chronic pain.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Chronic pain is pain that you feel in your body for more than three months. It can be defined as pain that is continuous or one that comes and goes, and it can be anywhere on your body. The severity of chronic pain may lead to other troubles, such as interfering with daily activities and even trouble sleeping. In turn, all of these things may even cause more pain.

What seems like a never-ending cycle may be hard to break. But the good news is there are some lifestyle changes you can make to release some of that pain. Along with exercise and proper sleep, your diet can also help. We spoke with Sydney Greene, MS, RD, and member of our Medical Expert Board, to help pick out some of the best eating habits to help reduce chronic pain.

Add more healthy fats to your meals.

salmon filet

When it comes to eating more healthy fats, although all are important, Greene prioritizes omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of foods with great sources of omega-3s include oily fish, flax seeds, and walnuts.

"Omega-3s help supports a healthy immune system," says Greene.

According to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to promoting healthy immune functions, especially in specific immune cell types.

Boost your consumption of leafy greens. 

leafy greens

Greene suggests that leafy greens are rich in the mineral, magnesium. Magnesium can help with muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain that is a result of damage done to nerves.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale, are rich in an anti-oxidant known for its anti-inflammatory properties called beta-carotene.

In a small study published in the Americal Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, it was shown that C-reactive protein (CRP) levels– a marker of inflammation– were, on average, reduced by 400% in 6 months by those who ate lots of leafy greens in their diet.

 5 Best Leafy Greens You Should Be Eating Every Day, Say Dietitians

Eat the rainbow.

Eat the rainbow

Sorry, this isn't a Skittles advertisement. But the good news is that eating this kind of rainbow during the day may help with your chronic pain. This rainbow refers to fruits and vegetables. So, if you don't like a certain fruit or vegetable, you can always choose one of another color.

"Consuming as many colors as possible in one day is a great way to ensure you are consuming loads of polyphenols and antioxidants which help fight inflammation," says Greene.

According to the Mayo Clinic, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will not only help you with inflammation but may also reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It may also help to strengthen your immune system and vision.

Cut down on alcohol.

woman refusing or saying no to being poured a glass of wine alcohol

"Although a glass of wine may take away the pain at the moment, long term, it will only increase pain levels," says Greene. "Alcohol is toxic and excess consumption will increase inflammation throughout the body."

When it comes to the worst drinking habits for inflammation, many of them include drinking alcohol. This includes drinking alcohol daily and more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day. It also includes consuming alcohol with added sugar or incorporating it into a poor diet.

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla