Can Diet Help with Pain & Inflammation?
Last updated: January 2020
I am a 48-year-old female. I have/had a Neuroendocrine, small cell Bladder tumor which had spread to my lymph nodes, liver, hip, and arm bones. I have had palliative chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This has bought me TIME! Precious time for my family and I to make lasting memories and to live our lives the best way we can.
Other health conditions have a huge impact
I know my time on this earth will be limited, and I am okay with that. What matters to me is the "here and now" and the quality of my life. I want to enjoy every single second of it. Unfortunately, in the last year, I have been diagnosed with further illnesses that have a huge impact on my life. They bring pain and discomfort to my daily activities, and I try as hard as I can not to let them interfere with my quality of life, but they do!
So, here is a small glimpse into what I cope with daily. Please don't misunderstand me: I know that there are people with more serious illnesses than I out there. This is just about how I deal and cope with mine.
This is a rare condition that affects the hands and feet, although in my case it's my arms, legs, face, and back. There is intense burning pain, lots of redness, and my skin temperature increases. It basically feels like I am on fire. I also experience a tingly feeling, like a thousand pins being tapped onto your skin. This makes my body temperature a lot higher than normal, and I cannot bear the heat; it makes summer really uncomfortable. I take blood pressure medication for this to open up the capillaries in my fingers and toes and to ensure that the blood gets pumped right to the tips of my fingers and toes.
This only started to occur last year, and it seems ridiculous that I have this due to being such a "hot" person. I take medication for this, too; again it is blood pressure pills, which help to ensure that the blood is pumped to my fingers and toes.
Moderate heart failure
This scares me. Due to the chemotherapy I received, I came away with heart failure. I now take medication to ensure that my left ventricle is still pumping. A change of diet can only benefit me, and I want to help myself.
Fluid on the lung
Due to having moderate heart failure, I also have fluid in the lungs. This makes me breathless. I do take a diuretic to help with this, and it is working. I am able to walk a lot further without having to gasp or catch my breath.
My pancreas has no enzymes at all, and we need these enzymes in order to digest our food that we eat. I now take a pill called "Creon" while I am eating. This pill contains pig enzymes which are close to our own digestive enzymes.
I have a high ALT; these are enzymes which are found mostly in the liver. The ALT test measures the amount of these enzymes within your blood. High enzymes mean your liver has a problem. This could be liver disease. So, no drinking alcohol, and I need to get my weight under control. I am "obese" according to the UK guidelines.
Oh, and let's not forget the menopause and everything that come from that!
Deciding "enough is enough"
Over the Christmas period, I found myself in a lot of pain and suffering. I decided that "enough was enough." I was sick of being in pain and that something had to give, so I decided to change my diet to a more plant-based diet, including fish and chicken. I don't want this to be a "diet" or "weight loss," nor do I want to "detox'. I just want to help myself, to help my body heal from within.
Steering clear of certain foods
Bye-bye to red meat (we didn't eat a lot of it), Bye-bye sugar, I am being more aware of what goes into my body. Bye-bye candy (I do have a sweet tooth), bye-bye fizzy drinks! And I am steering clear of anything that has the word "diet" or "low fat" in it - all those labels mean is that they are full of artificial flavors, colorings, and synthetic chemicals.
I have resolved to drink more water, and I now have 2-4 cups of ginger tea each day to help fight the inflammation within my body. This has got me thinking about what and why we eat the things we do. Some of it will be a habit and what we are used to eating or what we have ALWAYS eaten.
Trying out new things
I confess that I dislike anything that resembles bird food, so couscous, quinoa, and muesli are out. But, I guess that this journey is all about taste and trying foods that I usually wouldn't eat. So eating that muesli, trying that dried apricot, and getting out of the "set' mentality I have about certain foods.
I haven't tried this before
I am an average person: I like mashed potatoes and pork chops, covered in gravy. I have occasionally dieted within my life and have lost weight. Although I must confess, I used to starve myself a lot, perhaps only having one cooked meal a week and drinking a LOT of wine. So, although on paper this "food plan" seems to have been done before, and I am sure it has, not by me. Not by this cream cake loving, chocolate eating and dessert devouring Anita Brown.
Changing my beliefs about food
I know what I like, and it isn't health foods. I do love a good salad covered in mayo or caesar salad dressing. I love fried food, Chinese takeaways, and the odd kebab. This will be difficult for me. I guess I have to really change my whole beliefs about food, but I will. I have, too! I am fed up of being in pain. So wish me luck - and please follow me and share any hints or tips that you can give me. They will be very greatly appreciated.
Below are a list of the spices that I will be using a lot of the time and what properties they have.
Spices I plan to use in my food
This is a magical spice as far as I am concerned and is full of powerful compounds with medicinal properties. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, it has very strong anti-inflammatory reports and is considered to be a powerful antioxidant. So what's not to love? We usually have lots of turmeric in a dish called 'kedgeree,' yum yum, it tastes smooth and creamy.
Ginger can bring a rich, warming taste to your foods. Not too hot and not too spicy but certainly can enhance the heat. It can help to alleviate nausea (tea or chews), and due to its deep, rich properties, it is a really good essential oil to help with sore and tired muscles. Ginger is anti-inflammatory; therefore, it helps those who have osteoarthritis, and it may also help to lower blood pressure and improve heart disease symptoms. There is no end to what ginger can do: it relieves indigestion, helps to lower cholesterol, improves brain function and may even protect against Alzheimer's as well as fighting the good fight against cancer.
Garlic is great for boosting and strengthening our immune systems. It has been said to help to lower our blood pressure, lower our cholesterol and help to protect against Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Paprika is a wonderful spice filled with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-aging properties. It can help to lower your blood pressure, assists with food digestion and helps to make our hair healthy and bouncy. It also has lots of cardiovascular benefits. It is said that it helps to promote restful sleep and prevents anemia, is rich in vitamin A (good for immune system), E (healthy skin & eye, boosts immune system) and K (keeping our veins running).
Cumin is a good source of iron and may help those who have Diabetes, helping those with a really high cholesterol level. It is said to be a good digestive aid.
Garam masala is derived from mixing other spices together. It usually contains Bay which has anti-rheumatic & digestive properties. It also contains cumin, which we have already spoken about. It has cardamon, another wonderful spice, another antioxidant (fights free radicals) and is said to have anti-inflammatory, digestive, and anti-bacterial properties. Black pepper has anti-bacterial and anti-depressant properties to it; it also may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Last but not least is fenugreek. Fenugreek is particularly good for those who want to maintain good kidney and liver health. It has soothing and calming prophets which help with muscle pains
A lot of the spices have the same properties, thus enhancing their abilities to help heal the body and bring it into a state of "homeostasis"or balance - my goal.
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