One of the primary purposes of physical therapy is to help patients fight pain-causing inflammation. From conditions like tennis elbow to tendonitis, persistent inflammation is often the common underlying cause of a patient’s ongoing discomfort, hindered mobility, and slowed healing. Unfortunately, certain foods can counteract the benefits of physical therapy by triggering the body’s natural inflammatory response. To keep your body from fighting against itself, it is important to be mindful of your diet and stay away from foods which can hinder your physical therapy progress.
The following foods have all been known to cause inflammation:
- Sugars: the Journal of Endocrinology reports that eating too much glucose-containing sugar can increase levels of pro-inflammatory messengers known as “cytokines” and reduce our bodies’ ability to fight off infections. Sodas, candy bars, coffee drinks, and pastries are all high in sugars and should be avoided.
- Vegetable oil: While they may be healthier than trans fats, canola, soy, and palm oils have high levels of inflammation-causing omega-6 fats.
- Fried foods: Along the same lines, foods that are fried in vegetable oils contain raised levels of inflammatory compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). According to research from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, people who cut out fried foods from their daily diet tend to experience reduced inflammation.
- Refined flours: Processed white flours such as those found in white bread, pasta, tortillas, bagels, and pizza are stripped of their nutritional value in order to be more easily digested. The quicker your body breaks down carbs, the faster your blood sugar and insulin levels will rise – both of which can trigger inflammation.
- Dairy: While dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt can be healthy in moderation and contain digestion-healthy probiotics, they are also high in inflammation-triggering saturated fats. Likewise, lactose and casein proteins found in dairy are common allergens which can cause inflammatory reactions.
- Artificial sweeteners: Sugar substitutes such as Splenda, Stevia, and Aspartame have been known to alter the microbiome in human stomachs and can actually hinder your ability to process glucose, leading to an increased release of inflammatory cytokines. Diet sodas and no-sugar-added products are usually high in these substances.
- Alcohol: While some research has indicated that consuming one alcoholic beverage per day such as beer and wine can actually reduce a person’s levels of inflammatory proteins, having too much alcohol can have an opposite effect. The more you drink, the harder your body has to work to process the alcohol, weakening your immune system and promoting inflammation.