Traditional stir-fry spices are warming and so improve blood circulation and our own pain regulating mechanisms but many of them have a powerful dose of anti-inflammatory or analgesic action. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which is one of the most researched and proven anti-inflammation compounds we can ingest.
Ginger also contains a lot of anti-inflammatory chemicals while chilies contain capsaicin which switches off neuroreceptor p – the pain perception receivers in our bodies. Ginger, chilli, garlic and curry powder mixes all cause a release of endorphins that further lessens our experience of discomfort. So a good stir fry or any of these ingredients will diminish muscular pain and general aches.
Other ingredients that make the dish even more pain relieving include any green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, bok choy) are full of anti-inflammatory carotenoids and sulforaphanes. Try some precooked sweet potatoes and fresh sliced red peppers, both are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin – which is a potent inflammatory, and both are full of system cleansing antioxidants – which helps to diminish toxin accumulations and pain signalling. Tofu is a great vegetarian option to supply pain dampening omega-3 fatty acids but you could use fatty fish; both also help to cool down inflammation markers that wake up pain receptors.
A stir fry is quick and easy, no fuss so no stress – but it has another positive psychology bonus – it is hot and hot foods help to release even more pain modifying endorphins. The lift that comes after a good meal is not just the replenishment of nourishment, it is your brain rewarding you for refuelling and when you refuel with foods full of healthy phytochemicals the reward is amplified – even more so when the ‘heat’ in the food be that physical warmth of freely cooked or the ‘spice’ kicks in to warm the blood and boost circulation and get those endorphins and anti-inflammatories distributed quicker and more effectively.