Diet for a Pain-Free Lifeby Harris McIlwain, M.D.PrefaceTENS OF MILLIONS of Americans live with pain on a daily basis. Many are overweight. And for mostof these individuals, they felt fine until they hit middle age. As a pain specialist with one of the largestrheumatology group practices in the South, I passionately believe that chronic pain is a pandemic lifestyledisease. Harmful habits such as a fast-food diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and poor sleep make ushighly susceptible to long-term pain that perpetuates itself. The larger concern I address in this book isAmerica’s obesity epidemic—specifically, how extra fat, particularly belly fat, triggers low-gradeinflammation in the body, which results in pain and serious illness.For the past twenty-five years, I have focused on the connection between overweight, inflammation, andchronic pain, and have identified a revolutionary 4-step program that can reverse this deleterious processin most people. That program is the Diet for a Pain-Free Life, hereafter called Pain-Free Diet for short.As a board-certified rheumatologist, adjunct professor in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida, and investigator in clinical trials at Tampa Medical Group Research, over the past threedecades I have seen thousands of men and women who have suffered with chronic pain from back orneck problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sports injuries, and other conditions. Early in my career, Iwatched the most physically active men and women become inactive and even dependent on caregivers asthey moved into their forties, fifties, and sixties and lived with the results of ignoring their weight—which greatly burdened their muscles, joints, and bones, and impacted their ability to be active. Many of my patients were star athletes in high school and college. Others thrived on active weekends, engaging inrecreational and competitive sports or active gardening. Yet, in an almost predictable way, as theseoverweight baby boomer men and women hit middle age, they would come to my office asking for strongmedications to end their chronic (long-term) joint and muscle pain and stiffness so they could do theactivities they enjoyed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity has roughly the sameassociation with chronic health conditions as twenty years of aging. Obese and overweight men andwomen spend 3.5 times more on prescription drugs than those who are normal weight.Predicting the tremendous impact of chronic pain on the millions of aging baby boomers, in 1999, somerenowned pharmaceutical giants released “super aspirins.” These medications targeted inflammation, theliving tissue response to mechanical, chemical, and immunological challenge, and allowed patients to beactive again—virtually without pain. Many of my patients participated in the clinical trials for these superaspirins at Tampa Medical Group Research and were thrilled with the results. They were once again ableto enjoy recreational sports and other activities.