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Foods That Fight Pain

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD | February 17, 2021 | EatingWell

When you have a lot of ailments, popping pills for every ache and pain can leave you feeling like a walking drugstore, so it's no wonder that some of us would rather brave through a headache than take a pill. But can you fight aches and pains naturally with foods-without medication? While over-the-counter and prescription medications definitely serve a purpose, we've found science that shows you can get some pain-fighting effects from food. Here's a roundup of foods that can help you feel better naturally.


Good for: Sore muscles and aching joints

Ginger isn't just for relieving unsettled stomachs and the common cold. In fact, ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which may reduce the aches of osteoarthritis and soothe sore muscles. In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules). Another study found that ginger-extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee. Ginger may also help relieve pain and symptoms in other types of arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends ginger as a safe and alternate therapy to try, to help improve symptoms.


Good for: Inflamed joints and troubled tummies

Preliminary studies suggest that omega-3s may help quell the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis. And that's no surprise, since omega-3s are touted for their ability to reduce inflammation. In addition to soothing aching joints, omega-3s can also tame your troubled tummy (especially when caused by stress) according to a Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition study.

Cold-Brew Coffee

Pictured recipe: Cold-Brew Coffee


Good for: Headaches and migraines

Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine-about the amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee-provides relief from headaches, including migraines. If you don't want to be an everyday coffee drinker, that strategy may backfire. Regular coffee drinkers usually suffer withdrawal headaches when they cut back on the caffeine, but there's nothing unhealthy about having a daily cup or two.


Good for: Sore throat

When your throat is scratchy and irritated, try sipping on a tea made from brewed sage leaves. It's a remedy recommended by herbalists that has some support from clinical trials. A study found that spraying sore throats with a sage solution gave effective pain relief compared to a placebo.

Sour Cherries

Good for: Tired muscles

Sore muscles after a workout don't have to be a given. British researchers recently found that people who drank 1 ounce of concentrated cherry juice twice daily for 10 days bounced back faster from their workout (an intensive leg-resistance training session on day 8) than those who skipped the juice. Researchers think it's because the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in tart cherries-and other dark red and purple fruit juices like grape, pomegranate, acai, blueberry and cranberry-act as natural NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin), reducing exercise-induced muscle damage.

This article was written by Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD from EatingWell and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD

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