Unhealthy diet increases pain sensitivity

Unhealthy diet increases pain sensitivity

Unhealthy diet increases pain sensitivity

Unhealthy diet among obese individuals may explain increased pain sensitivity. This is the conclusion of a US study presented by Prof Charles Emery of the Ohio State University at the Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC in Vienna in September.

Unhealthy diet among obese individuals increases pain sensitivity. This is suggested by a US study which investigated the associations between diet, body fat and pain. “The Body Mass Index (BMI), dietary habits and pain sensitivity are evidently interrelated. In particular, persons with a higher BMI who mainly consume low-fibre foods appear to be at risk of suffering from pain more frequently”, study author Prof Charles Emery (Ohio State University Columbus) stated at the 9th Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC „Pain in Europe IX“ in Vienna.  More than 4,000 pain specialists from all over the world discuss the most recent discoveries in their field at this major scientific event.

For the study, the BMI of approximately 100 adult participants was calculated. It exceeded 30 on average, therefore falling within the obese range. The participants’ diet was also evaluated: Those who ate anti-inflammatory and therefore healthier foods, such as foods containing more antioxidants and fewer saturated fatty acids, scored a higher number of points in the „Health Eating Index“ (HEI). Finally, the participants rated their pain sensitivity using a questionnaire. The result: pain sensitivity increased with the level of the BMI. It also became clear that dietary habits help explain the relationship between the BMI and pain, since the blood parameters of the inflammation triggering protein cytokine depend on diet. It is already known that overweight can trigger and support chronic inflammatory reactions in the body, thereby increasing pain sensitivity.

The relationship between diet and pain was not due to the presence of arthritis or joint pain, and was not related to the use of analgesics. “Choosing healthy or unhealthy foods could be a relevant factor in understanding the relationship between body fat and pain”, Prof Emery summarised.

Source: EFIC Abstract Emery et al: Dietary intake mediates the relationship between body fat and pain

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