The Pain Free Diet Blog

Plant-based, Paleo, probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics, GMO, gluten-free, organic, all-natural, cleanses, detoxification, supplement, don’t supplement. Pretty confusing right? What is truly healthy and what is not? What is missing in the healthcare system that can treat your pain safely and effectively? Weekly articles explore trending topics, dig into the science, and debunk myths while giving you a sustainable approach to eliminate pain and improve your long-term health, function and vitality.


By: Jonathan Tait, D.O.

Routine exercise, minimizing stress, quality sleep, adequate recovery between workouts – all are essential for getting out of pain, and achieving optimal health and performance.

However, I’m going to suggest that the number one factor impacting your capacity to achieve peak physical condition and well-being, is the amount of inflammation your body is subjected to as a result of your diet.

As you have already learned in the last article, what you eat on a daily basis can dramatically increase or decrease chronic systemic inflammation.

Repetitive dietary injuries can be maintaining your pain –  sapping your productivity in life, your progress in the gym, and sabotaging your relationships. After all, who wants to be around a grump complaining about their pain all the time?

The quality and content of the food you consume can shift the balance towards an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory state, the latter of course is where we want to be living to help recovery from injury and hard training.

Not all healthy foods are anti-inflammatory, and not all “bad foods” are inflammatory.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years, you know that regular consumption of highly refined foods containing high amounts of sugar, inflammatory fats, and a lab bench full of artificial chemicals in the form of sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives – all highly toxic to the body.

There has also been plenty of information published about the pro-inflammatory effects of gluten-containing “healthy whole grains”, as well as dairy. I’m going to leave that discussion for another day, in order to focus on other foods that are less obvious to be problematic.

If we look at the inflammatory potential of a food, it depends on many factors including the sugar content, the amount and type of fat, essential fatty acid makeup, vitamins and minerals, antioxidant value, glycemic index, and other contained compounds known to be anti-inflammatory.

(A searchable database can be found at

The #1 inflammatory factor is……

Sugar content

  • It is pretty obvious that we want to keep refined sugars to a minimum to prevent pro-inflammatory blood sugar spikes that can contribute to advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
  • AGEs can be produced endogenously as a result of a glycation reaction whereby proteins and fats are cross-linked (glycated) after exposure to sugar.1
  • Exogenous sources come the diet, especially in highly refined or processed foods.2
  • The more AGEs that are formed, the faster tissues age. AGEs are also known to promote inflammation and contribute to tendon, ligament, and joint damage.3

In my next post I’ll comment on the #2 inflammatory factor. I guarantee you’re eating this every day, and you’ve probably ben tricked into thinking this is healthy.



1. Goldin A et al. Advanced Glycation End Products. Circulation. 2006;114 :599-605.

2. Uribarri J et al. Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.

3. Abate M et al. Occurrence of tendon pathologies in metabolic disorders. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Jan 12.