Considering the todays society awareness of the benefits of eating whole foods and having a low fat / sugar diet, it is often surprising to see how foods such as fruit, bread and even dairy can impact our bodies negatively. Inflammation may be triggered by several things; trauma, medication and even stress as we know. However diet has been even proven to be as inflammatory setting off pain cycles, fluctuations in moods and stress levels. It was eye-opening after taking a 90 day detox from wine, caffeine, bread (what ?!) and dairy how differently I felt in terms of clarity of mind, sleep quality, and pain among other things. What seemed like me feeling tired after a big meal or a bad nights sleep was in fact an allergic reaction I was having to sugar, certain foods and wines that had been so part of my regular dietary routine. Symptoms from menses to right knee pain that I had been grappling with for years had also diminished significantly without a change in my physical routine. What I took from this as a clinician was that when addressing pain, diet is so profoundly important and having a discussion with patients regarding their daily intake and habits might be a missing piece to that pain puzzle. Certain individuals may not know they’re having an allergic reaction to food because they’re not breaking out into hives – but they may say they’re “constipated” or feeling like they’re “in a fog” even after a good nights rest. Start off by assessing what you may be consuming a lot of and start by eliminating that one item. You may begin to feel a small difference and as you continue to remove maybe more of those sweet fruits that we throw into our smoothies, or reduce the caffeine or in my case that generous pour of wine, the differences will become more apparent.
At the end of my 90-day detox I decided to celebrate with a small glass of merlot and a slice of chocolate cake to go with. It was a slow and groggy morning after a 7 and ½ hour slumber that normally is just the right amount of sleep to feel refreshed. While we certainly cannot eliminate all that we enjoy, our food choices will require careful vigilance and a certain discipline in listening to our bodies and how they react. You might be surprised by what you learn along the way.
Flora Cohan – DPT, CFMT