Look After Your Gut Health to Help Reduce Chronic Pain

Posted October 2022
Roasted beetroot dip, smoked salmon, horseradish, creme fraiche & dill on Corn Thins slices

Do you suffer from chronic pain? You are not alone as one in every five Australian over the age of 45 year of age currently live with chronic pain. If you are one of the many people currently living with chronic pain, you would understand how this level and consistency of pain reduces your quality of life. There are many strategies which may help reduce the level of pain you experience. One strategy which you may not have thought of is optimizing your gut health.

Your gut microbiome is made up of the types of microbes which live in your gut. These are as unique to you as your fingerprint, and everyone has their own ‘optimal’ healthy gut microbiome. The health of your gut microbiome is increased when you have a balance and variety of health promoting microbes.

Your gut microbiome is a prime controller of visceral pain. Visceral pain is the type of pain you feel around your abdomen, chest, and pelvis areas. New research suggests that your gut microbiome may also modulate other types of pain including chronic pain. Types of chronic pain that your gut microbiome may influence are headaches, inflammatory pain such as arthritis, neuropathic or nerve pain, as well as tolerance to opioid, the types of medication which are prescribed to help manage chronic pain.

The ability of your gut microbiome to influence chronic pain is predicted to be due to the signals which are released from the microbes. These signals regulate how sensitive you are to pain and consequently influences how much pain you experience on an ongoing basis or chronically.

Key lifestyle strategies you can implement to support a healthy gut include:

  1. Aiming for 25-38 grams of dietary fiber each day if you are an adult.
  2. Structuring your meals and snacks to include at least half being a form of plant-based food. This includes nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, and whole grains or whole grain containing foods such as Corn Thins slices.
  3. Enjoy two serves of probiotic rich foods or drinks a day. This could include yoghurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, sauerkraut, or natto.
  4. Aiming for thirty different plant-based foods each week. The health promoting microbes all need different sources of fuel in the form of probiotic fiber. Each different type of plant food provides different probiotic fibre so variety in your diet is a key component in creating a healthy gut microbiome.
  5. Adding two to three serves of seafood a week. The type of fat found in seafood called omega-3 fat has links to a healthy gut microbiome.

Take home message: The importance of looking after the health of your gut is essential for many reasons. If you suffer from chronic pain achieving a healthy gut could be a key factor in helping to improve your quality of life and may help relieve the level of chronic pain you experience.



  1. Guo R, Chen LH, Xing C, Liu T. Pain regulation by gut microbiota: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Br J Anaesth. 2019 Nov;123(5):637-654. doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2019.07.026. Epub 2019 Sep 2 PMID: 31551115.
  2. Chronic Pain in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/10434b6f-2147-46ab-b654-a90f05592d35/aihw-phe-267.pdf.aspx?inline=true
Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…