Think Twice About Eating That – CRPS and Diet

By Patricia Calderon, Guest Blogger for RSDSA

Who would have ever thought that what we eat while having CRPS/RSD would cause us more pain then we already experience? I found out the hard way when my symptoms were getting worst and worst each day, then some days not so much. “There has to be a reason for this,” I said to myself. So, I kept a diary of all the foods I ate and my pain scale throughout the day. Low and behold, I found out that I was making my pain increase each day with the foods I was eating. Consuming a lot of processed foods was one of them. Because I am always in pain and can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, microwavable foods were all I ate at one point. In this article, I will be sharing what foods to eat and which to avoid all together, along with a recipe that has helped my inflammation each day.

CRPS/RSD is often described as injury to a nerve or soft tissue that does not follow the normal healing path. Many physicians agree that the complications and pain from CRPS are due to inflammation. Basically, if you have CRPS, you suffer from chronic inflammation. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet focuses on eating foods that heal and naturally reduce inflammation and also reduce triggers of inflammation. Foods that tend to trigger the body’s inflammatory response can cause an increase in joint pain, stiffness, redness, swelling, heat, and even loss of function. Since most sufferers of CRPS/RSD already have a heightened inflammatory response, eating foods that can increase inflammation can worsen already inflamed and painful areas and lead to further damage.

Benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet

Following an anti-inflammatory diet provides the building blocks to:

  • prevent further nerve damage
  • help heal current nerve damage
  • increase circulation
  • improve sleep
  • increase energy
  • decrease pain perception
  • improve mood
  • increase joint mobility
  • strengthen immune system

Let’s talk about foods to avoid. Coffee and chocolate contain oxalic acid -so too much of these can inhibit mineral absorption. It has been stated that chemical compounds in coffee can interfere with the opiate receptor sites in the brain, interfering with nerve transduction and pain relieving mechanisms (though I haven’t read any scientific research on this) which results in a decrease in pain tolerance. So you have to imagine that I, a caffeine junky, can’t have caffeine anymore. This was one item in my food diary that I started to slowly ween off of and day by day I noticed less pain. My pain was not fully gone, just relieved a bit more than other days.

Stay away from sugars. Sugar triggers an inflammatory/aging process called “glycosylation”. Avoid white refined sugars and flour products including white bread, bagels and white rice. Also to be avoided are sugary sodas and other high sugar drinks.

Animal fats contain an inflammatory agent called arachidonic acid (AA). Unfortunately, this means avoiding or strictly limiting red meat, butter and whole eggs. Stay away from processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, bacon, etc.) that contain nitrates, which can really increase inflammation.

Now that we got the bad food out of the way, let’s talk about foods to eat. I know what you’re thinking… Do I have to become a vegetarian or go vegan? The answer is no, but if you find that eating that way works by all means GO FOR IT! Eating a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables, and rotate them, to get the maximum nutrients (don’t just eat the same vegetable every day). Smoothies are a great way to get more nutrients into your diet if you are in pain and not feeling particularly hungry. I found that smoothies where the way to go for me in the morning and at lunch because they were less time consuming and due to all the medication I don’t feel hungry enough to eat a meal. Prepping the smoothies ahead of time and storing them in the freezer is best. When you feel like having a smoothie, all you do is empty the contents in the blender and add juice.

Turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon are particularly good spices to try to include in your diet. Not only do they enhance flavor, they also have various phytochemicals that have been studied for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Below is a turmeric juice recipe I drink every morning. This helps fight inflammation throughout the day.

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Juice

 1- Medium Carrot

1 -tbsp Ginger

1- juice from lemon or orange

1 tbsp Honey

2- tbsp Turmeric

2- cups Coconut Water

Directions: Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink as is or strain through a strainer. ENJOY!

Note: This is based on the writer’s experience and opinions.

Did this post resonate with you? Do you have questions or would you like to learn more about this topic?
Please reach out to the RSDSA team directly and privately using our form and we'll get back in touch with you as soon as possible!