Pain that persists for three months or more is defined as chronic pain. Every day 66 million Americans are dealing with pain. For many it’s so intense they’re literally paralyzed by it. Their chronic pain can be caused by a pinched nerve, an intestinal disorder, or joint inflammation. A surprising number of victims are middle aged. Less surprising is that more than half of all seniors, 65 to 79, have chronic pain. More than two-thirds of seniors over 80 live with constant pain. Many of the very aged are so crippled with pain, all they can do is lay motionless in bed and hope to die.
Can we avoid severe pain and dependance on the painkillers that lose their effectiveness over time? Or is pain an age-related affliction that can’t be avoided?
I keep emphasizing the importance of “quality of life.” Most people associate it with family, good times, good jobs, and nice material possessions. Rarely do they put overall health first on the list. That’s sad because health eventually impacts every single aspect of their lives.
There are two primary causes for debilitating pain outside of injuries, exposure, and infectious diseases. One is physical and the other is diet.
A pinched sciatic nerve is a physical event. If anyone has experienced it, they know what shooting, debilitating, paralyzing pain is all about. It’s often caused by inactivity. Muscles keep skeletons from collapsing in a heap and pressuring nerves. Without use, muscles get weaker and weaker. Pinched nerves can usually be cured and prevented without doctors and drugs. The process starts with stretching exercises, then walking, etc. As the muscles get stronger the pain subsides and can eventually stop.
Being physically active is one big reason why people live longer. This doesn’t require people to be marathon runners or competitive weightlifters. All it takes is some daily activity. Walking, bicycle riding, swimming, light weightlifting, and basic calisthenics/yoga all help people maintain muscle tone which adds years of quality living.
Diet is more important in preventing pain than exercise. That’s because nearly every chronic disease has some association with diet. Even physically fit people can have arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and every other chronic disease which can cause considerable pain.
There are three ways diet creates pain. 1) Nutritional deficiencies cause chronic diseases and associated inflammation. 2) Sugar and carbohydrates feed internal fungal infestations that produce mycotoxins (toxic chemicals) that can cause inflammation in the gut, joints, nerves, and brain. There are also mycotoxins in foods. 3) A diet consisting of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) well in excess of Omega-3 EFAs is also associated with most chronic diseases and pain.
People with arthritis and digestive disorders are negatively impacted by sugars and carbohydrates. Eating a handful of dried cherries, a bowl of oatmeal, and virtually any high glycemic food may cause their pain to explode. Quite often they don’t notice it because that’s what they eat all the time and their pain never subsides. If they ate like I do, where I deliberately avoid carbohydrates and high glycemic foods, then they would better understand what it’s like to be pain free. When I have a little sugar that’s hidden in a so-called paleo dish, I quickly feel the consequences because my ankles ache and walking causes some pain.
When people are avoiding sugar and grain they can still create an inflammatory state from raising their EFA ratios by eating too many nuts, seeds, vegetable and olive oils, grain-fed meats, and high Omega-6 vegetables. Pain can then be their constant companion. Some Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation although the main culprit is the high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. An EFA ratio of less than 2:1 means the body has sufficient Omega-3 and that condition produces a non-inflammatory state somewhat akin to how marijuana functions!
Cannabinoids, which are found in marijuana, are produced naturally in the body from Omega-3 fatty acids. That’s why as the EFA ratio increases above 2:1 the body’s inflammatory state also increases. Pain then becomes ubiquitous because nearly all Americans have ratios above 10:1 with many having ratios well in excess of 15:1.
What’s so sad is that nursing homes and hospitals serve meals that consist of high glycemic, grain-based foods with high EFA ratios. No wonder their “victims” live in constant pain requiring ever increasing doses of pain killers. It’s a vicious circle that only ends in a miserable death.
All of us have choices that can impact our quality of life. Those who ignore what’s been happening to nearly everyone else shouldn’t be surprised when they end up the same way. Only by making appropriate changes can outcomes differ.
I desire a different path. That’s why I exercise and have a very strict diet of grass-fed meats, Omega-3 meats, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables mostly green leafy . I eat fruit sparingly because of it’s high sugar content and average 5:1 EFA ratio. I avoid sugar, syrups, honey, grains, seeds, and most nuts (I eat macadamia nuts sparingly). I take a fish oil supplement for added insurance.
To your health.
Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.
Don’t miss these links for additional reading:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Inflammation by Anne Barden, Ph.D. and Trevor Mori, Ph.D.
Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Endocannabinoid Epoxides by Daniel R. McDougle, et. al.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fight Inflammation via Cannabinoids by Steph Adams, Science Writer
Get Your Marijuana Here! by Ted Slanker
Fibromyalgia Mystery Solved by Ted Slanker
Essential Fatty Acids in Health and Chronic Disease by Dr. Artemis P Simopoulos
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