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Small Things You Can Do To Relieve Chronic Pain

Small Things You Can Do To Relieve Chronic Pain

As the word “chronic” suggests, this is a form of pain that persists for a very long time or is constantly recurring. In medicine, any pain that continues beyond half a year qualifies as chronic pain. There are varying degrees of chronic pain, ranging from mild to extreme, recurrent, to constant,  and so on.

Considering the lengthy amount of time many people spend suffering chronic pain, it is not surprising that it can also contribute to negative emotional side effects. Suffering from a kind of continuous pain only known to yourself and fellow sufferers can have a detrimental impact on mental health and personal relationships. Thus, it is critical that you take initiative and responsibility for your chronic pain and be aware of things that you can do to alleviate your suffering. Of course, when the chronic pain suffered reaches a point where you are unable to continue with your daily life, seek medical attention immediately.

If more serious issues have been ruled out as the cause of your pain, here are 15 small things that you can do to relieve chronic pain:

Do Not Ingest Foods Containing Solanine

Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison that is found in common foods such as potatoes, with its pesticidal properties serving to enhance the plant’s natural defenses. These backyard foods are popular and often served with meals. The source of the problem is that some people are unable to metabolize solanine; it consequently accumulates in their major organs and creates health problems for them, potentially including chronic pain. Avoid nightshade vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, eggplants, chilies, goji berries). Also avoid products/foods that utilize potato starch as this can help alleviate the chronic pain experienced by some people.

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Do Take Supplements

Even though there has been a lot of debate about the use of natural and synthetic supplements, the consumption of either one can help to complement everyday meals that may be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals. Moreover, for people suffering from chronic pains, there are certain kinds of supplements that help with nerve functions, muscles and joint recovery. Although supplements are recommended, you should always check with your certified general practitioner for more information and to advise you accordingly.

Do Light To Moderate Exercise

As a sufferer of chronic pain, engaging in heavy or intense exercise would be difficult for you, but yet it is still hard to ignore the incredible benefits exercise can bring. Exercise can help to reduce your chronic pain and improve your quality of life. By exercising, you enjoy the effects of better sleep which reduces your reliance on pain medication; whilst also contributing to healthier mood with a greater release of endorphins.

Avoid Alcohol

An ever-present beverage culturally, alcohol is drunk for a range of purposes, for enjoyment- and even for pain management. When suffering from chronic pain, it is essential to get a good night’s sleep in order for the body to be able to heal well and to avoid further physical tension accumulating. By partaking in alcohol consumption, you are depriving your body of deep sleep as alcohol is known for promoting shallow sleep. Thus, you give yourself a less restful night whilst increasing your levels of chronic pain.

Distract Yourself From The Pain

Another simple trick that you can do is to simply distract yourself from the pain. Albeit not a very wise choice in the long-run, the reality is that it still works for a short period of time. Upon feeling the onset of your chronic pain, turn on your favorite TV show or enjoy a board game with your loved ones. Focus on that activity and choose to ignore the pain. Eventually, the intensity of the pain should subside and you’ll emerge stronger and more prepared for future attacks.

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Avoid Vibrations

There have been plenty of reports alerting us to the risks of long-term exposure to vibrations, particularly for people suffering from chronic pain. Chiropractic research has suggested that long-term exposure to vibrations are one of the main causes of chronic pain, in particular – repetitive vibration and hand-arm vibrations. If you are currently in a job where you are regularly exposed to either type of vibration and you also suffer from regular pain attacks, it is possible that vibrations are your primary “trigger”. Take action and visit a medical professional as soon as you can in order to create an effective treatment plan.

Educate Your Friends And Family About Your Condition

It’s important for your family, friends and loved ones to understand your condition and the kind of pain you are suffering in order to prevent any misunderstandings, miscommunication, and also to equip them with the relevant knowledge and skills to help you when the chronic pain hits. It’s important to always talk about your feelings and experiences; this is highly recommended by psychologists since it promotes healthier mental well-being, encourages a person’s spirits, whilst allowing both you and your loved ones to be well-informed and actively involved in their pain management. Take the time to talk to your loved ones to prevent your personal life and relationships from being negatively affected by chronic pain.

Join A Support Group

Not only is it important to let you friends and loved ones be there for you during your time of need, there are other forms of support you can rely on, including support groups. Attend a support group for people going through chronic pain. Although you may suffer from different types and varieties of chronic pain, you’re confiding in people who understand your pain, and this can make you feel like you are less alone in your struggle. Not only do you gain pillars of support through joining such a group, but some of these people will likely be survivors of extreme chronic pain, or people who have been suffering from chronic pain for longer than you have. From these meetings, you can learn important lessons and new approaches to coping with the pain.

Don’t Stress – Relax

We are all human. We need to accept our limits and flaws, and learn to not be afraid to acknowledge them. By taking control of our emotional and physical health, you are taking control of your battle with chronic pain and are on the path to recovery. Have the courage to say no to activities that may tire you, and be firm when you decide on what is the best choice for your health. Schedule in activities that bring positive emotional effects like boosting your morale and don’t be afraid to customize your own schedule for maximum relaxation, because truly, it is all up to you.

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Don’t Smoke

Once again, it is common knowledge that smoking is a health hazard and this is even more so for people suffering from chronic pain. Smoking is known for being able to increase a patient’s chronic pain and is linked to other severe diseases and health conditions. Naturally, some may turn to smoking as a stress reliever or as a form of pain management, but this does the body more harm than good as smoking can make it harder for a person to respond to chronic pain treatment. If you live with someone who smokes, consider getting an air purifier for cigarette smoke. Smoking also negatively influences a person’s perception of and sensitivity to pain. Stay away from smoking.

Stay Hydrated

The health benefits of drinking water are clearly established as we need water to live and our bodies consist of 75% water, and our brains, 85%. Dehydration is one of the primary causes of many illnesses and diseases, with chronic pain being one of them. It is important that we consume enough water to keep ourselves hydrated, eliminate toxins from our body and replenish any water that we have lost during this process. You need to provide your body with the essential tools it needs to fight chronic pain, and water is one of these tools.

CONSUME TURMERIC

Turmeric is a household Asian spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This medicinal root also contains antioxidants, has been associated with cancer prevention, and due to containing curcumin, it has the ability to reduce inflammation naturally without causing any liver or kidney damage. One of the reasons why chronic pain occurs is due to the occurrence of inflammation in the body. This can lead to severe chronic pain if you ignore any form of treatment. Turmeric is particularly useful for assisting medical conditions like arthritis or sports injuries, for example. Scientific research has revealed that turmeric may also potentially aid those suffering from asthma and cancer, so go ahead and try this miraculous spice for yourself.

Do Yoga And Meditate

Yoga advocates for a perspective to chronic pain that involves unlearning harmful reactions to pain that only exacerbate the problem. The use of relaxation exercises can help sufferers to teach their body healthy ways to cope with pain. Relaxation has been proven to be particularly healing for sufferers of chronic pain. It switches off your stress response, reduces your stress levels and thus turns the energy within your body towards growth, repair and other beneficial health processes. Make a point to learn and practice a few yoga relaxation poses to help further your healing process.

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Maintain Good Posture

We get so busy these days that it’s often hard to make time for any exercise, and often we forget about maintaining good posture. Whether we are at work or slouched in front of the TV, good posture is essential in fighting chronic pain. Avoid slouching (also fondly known as the “C-slump”) as slouching is known to make a person particularly vulnerable to back problems. Slouching prevents your weight from being evenly distributed between the joints and muscles in your back, and uneven weight distribution taxes the lower back muscles and tendons, thus increasing the risk of sprains and strains. Bad posture can weaken or damage your nerves and blood flow as well. Make it a point to maintain proper posture, or even just consistently sit up straight throughout the day and you’ll begin to see wonderful results.

Use Heat Pads

This is probably the most commonly used solution for temporary relief for your chronic pain. Simply apply cold packs or hot packs (according to your preference) to any area you feel pain to enjoy quick and effective relief. Heat packs help to direct heat to the source of pain and the heat helps to encourage greater blood flow in that area. Application of a heat pack to the source of your chronic pain will stimulate the sensory receptors in that area, impeding the transmission of pain signals to the brain, and creating pain relief.

Although chronic pain may seem incredibly dreary and tiresome, with small changes to your life, and making sure that you receive professional medical advice, you can and will begin to see a great difference in your quality of life. Think about it: no one is going to be able to make that pain go away except for you. Have courage, and take the initiative to step forward and be actively involved in your healing process. Only then will you reap the fruits of what you have sowed.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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