(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.com.)
When you get out of bed in the morning do you make a sort of “oyyyyyyy…aaaagggh” groan that goes with an achy pain in your back and knees? Welcome to the world of getting older. (Your first impulse might be to take some ibuprofen. Recent studies, however, have shown a possible link between long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and increased risk of heart disease and gastrointestinal bleeding — so talk to your doctor.)
What you can do right now is incorporate certain foods into your diet that have been shown to reduce pain and may take away some of those achy feelings.
Want to ease muscle pain after a workout? Believe it or not, caffeine may help. A University of Georgia study discovered that a moderate amount (two cups of coffee daily) reduced volunteers’ soreness by up to 48 percent.
(MORE: 7 Back Pain Myths Busted)
A centuries-old folk remedy for upset stomach, insomnia, and anxiety, chamomile may also reduce pain associated with arthritic gout by reducing inflammation, according to a study from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. Since most of the study trials have been on animals, not humans, there is no recommended dosage. However, if your tummy is churning or your joints are achy, it couldn’t hurt to sit down with a nice hot cup of this soothing herb tea.
(MORE: Foods to Help You Age Better)
Long believed to be an herbal remedy for an upset stomach and colds, this root also has produced good evidence that it can help calm muscle pain after exercise, if taken daily. In another University of Georgia study, one volunteer group ate two grams a day of raw ginger, and another group ate the same amount of heated ginger. After 11 days, both groups experienced a 25 percent reduction in exercise-induced pain.
The study also showed that a single dose after exercise has no effect. “However, ginger may attenuate the day-to-day progression of muscle pain,” write the study authors.
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel are full of omega-3s, fatty acids that are natural anti-inflammatories. A study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that the particular type of omega-3s found in fish oil had the same effect on reducing arthritic pain as ibuprofen. Researchers suggest that people with arthritis eat two or three portions of oily fish a week, or take 1,500 mg fish oil capsules daily.
Found in tofu, soy milk, and edamame, soy can help cut down on knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. In an Oklahoma State University study, participants were randomly assigned to receive 40 grams of milk-based protein or soy protein daily. After three months, the soy group had a significant reduction in pain.
(MORE: Is It Time to Go Vegan?)
In a randomized, double-blind trial, researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University discovered that the antioxidants in tart cherries had a big impact on reducing chronic inflammation due to joint pain and arthritis. Previous studies have linked the fruit with speeding recovery from muscle soreness as well. To combat inflammation, drink one eight-ounce glass of cherry juice, or eat a cup of cherries, a day.
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