It’s long been known that eating a healthy diet gives you a better chance of leading a healthy life. But, one new study looks at high-fat diets and whether they contribute to chronic pain.
According to the study, mice fed a high-fat diet demonstrated pain responses to non-painful stimuli, a similar effect that may be seen in individuals with obesity or type 2 diabetes.
Oliver Hulland, MD, a pain medicine specialist in North Haven, says considerable research has already shown that a diet high in fats can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiac disease and can cause inflammation in humans. However, what this study showed was that “simply the consumption of fats, regardless of obesity, can lead to changes in the experiencing of pain and of non-painful stimuli to become painful.”
Dr. Hulland says it is important to remember that what happens in mice might not happen in humans, and there will need to be further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. He notes that a large body of research already shows that diet can influence the experience of pain.
“For example, we know that an anti-inflammatory diet can benefit someone who has diffuse or inflammatory pain. And it’s clear that a lot of our chronic pain patients suffer from obesity,” says Dr. Hulland.
Dr. Hulland works with medical weight loss providers and bariatric surgeons when their obese patients have chronic pain. He said weight loss medications that are coming into the market now will definitely have a positive effect on those who live with chronic pain.
“Americans experience more pain than anyone else in the world,” Dr. Hulland says. “The American diet is high in fat. Maybe that’s the next study.”