Cure your pain: Avoid Soda

The origins of soda drinks can be traced to a pharmacist that wanted to stimulate the brain by creating a mixture that contained cocaine.  Despite the removal of the cocaine, though, many more drugs that activate the brain remain in these popular drinks like caffeine, sugar and flavor enhancers.   More and more popular drinks are heavily loaded with caffeine,  known to give people an energy boast and, when consumed regularly, these drinks also cause caffeine dependency.   The constant ups and downs of a caffeine roller coaster ride cause headaches, insomnia, mood instability and pain.  Caffeine is a brain stimulant, a drug that can over-stimulate the brain and sometimes even cause death.

Sugar in soda is also a drug.  Sugar not only stimulates the brain and causes dependency, it also harms the body in other ways.  Complications from sugar include diabetes, a disease hallmarked by the harmful effects of frequent blood sugar spikes and consistently high blood sugar levels.  Anyone who is experiencing pain should be extra cautious about avoiding anything that contains sugar because sugar promotes inflammation and inflammation leads to pain.  In addition to sugar, sodas contain another, lesser known chemical that can lead to more pain, Aspartame. For years, researchers have reported about the potential harmful effects of Aspartame, a flavor enhancer.  The effects are primarily seen in the nervous system such as: headaches, depression, anxiety and blurred vision.  This chemical is meant to stimulate the taste buds but it appears to do more than that in some people.  Aspartame could even contribute to a painful experience by sensitizing the nervous system.

We have seen dramatic pain relief in patients who eliminate soda, specifically in patients with neuropathic pain and Fibromyalgia.

Today’s “Cure”: Food Intake

To make progress in finding a “Cure” for your pain, every patient needs to evaluate the food they put into their body.  Your food is the fuel your body uses to heal and to repair itself.  There are countless studies that show direct correlation to increased inflammatory levels and increased pain with different food groups.

Here is a list of foods we recommend to avoid or consider a 6 week elimination trial.

#1 Avoid all sodas!  Interesting enough, diet soft drinks, due to the sweetener Aspartame,  seem to have even worse detrimental side effects for pain patients.  We have seen dramatic results from patients eliminating all soft drinks and replacing with water.  Eliminating soft drinks improves energy, decreases inflammatory levels that trigger or exacerbate Migraine headaches, joint pain and Fibromyalgia.

#2  Limit or eliminate “Night shade” plants.  Most patients assume that increasing vegetables would be a good lifestyle choice, however increasing studies are revealing that pain patients do worse with exposure to nightshade plants.  Nightshade plants include a list of vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant and more!  These nightshade plants increase inflammatory levels in the body and increase pain.

#3 Limit Carbohydrates!   Carbs, specifically yeast related products worsen pain and specifically Fibromyalgia patients.

#4 Avoid Fast food, not even going to explain this further.

#5  Do your best to shop the outer ring of the grocery store.  The outer ring of the grocery store will have more of the food that should be put into our body.  The inner aisles contain all the processed foods.  Obviously it’s impossible to avoid all of the inner aisles, but if you start on the outer ring you will improve your nutritional value.

#6  Consider being evaluated for Gluten.

This list will give you a good starting point to cleaning up your food intake and improving the food that fuels your body.