Inflammation: We hear the word among our injured friends. We know if we sprain our ankle, an inflammatory response takes place and the ankle swells. Inflammation can be a good thing to help trigger a healing response in our bodies. However, chronic inflammation in our bodies can be the cause of disease, pain and injury. There are many different factors that can contribute to long term inflammation in our bodies. As an athlete, you are constantly putting stresses on your body causing in inflammatory process. The muscles and tissues get stressed during activity and inflammation will take place to help start the recovery process. But what happens when the inflammation persists? Have you ever noticed an ache in your knee after running or in your shoulder after swimming? You discover that ice and ibuprofen are soon your best friends. While these are great controllers of inflammation for an acute bout, it is not a long term solution. What if we could naturally promote inflammation control in our bodies to help keep us healthy? Guess what, we can.
An anti-inflammatory diet can help keep pain and inflammation at bay and keep you healthier during your training. The number one key is to eat REAL food! Processed foods tend to have a lot of added sugars or chemicals and can increase inflammatory levels in the body. I would like to share with you some tasty (real) foods to incorporate into your diet.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Are good fats that help decrease inflammation. Foods include:
Wild caught salmon
Flax, pumpkin, sunflower seeds
Shiitake Mushrooms: Have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties.
Green Tea: Flavanoids in green tea have anti-inflammatory compounds and are also seen to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Ginger: Helps control blood sugar and inflammation.
Garlic: Can help reduce inflammation, regulate blood glucose and help the body fight infection.
Turmeric: This Asian spice (found in Curry) contains Curamin, a natural anti-inflammatory compound said to have a similar effect as over the counter pain relievers.
Chili Peppers: Contains Capsaicin, a potent inhibitor of Substance P, a neuropeptide associated with the inflammatory process. The hotter the pepper, the more Capsaicin; therefore more anti-inflammatory properties.
Papaya: Contains “Papain”, a protein-digesting enzyme. Together, with nutrients such as Vitamin C and E, Papain helps decrease inflammation and improves digestion.
Blueberries: Filled with antioxidants and high in phytonutrients that has been shown to be involved in inflammation as well as protect against diseases like cancer and dementia.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Filled with polyphenols to protect the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats are also anti-inflammatory agents that help lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Broccoli: Contains anti-inflammatory and anti cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane which helps the body rid itself from potentially carcinogenic compounds.
Sweet Potatoes: Great source of carbohydrate, Beta-Carotene, Manganese, Vitamins B6 and C, and fiber. These nutrients are powerful antioxidants to help heal inflammation from the body.
Cinnamon: Has been shown useful in mitigating arthritis, block inflammation and enhance insulin function.
These are just some of the many natural foods that you can incorporate into your diet to control the inflammatory process in your body. Will eating all these foods everyday guarantee you will not get injured or sick? Absolutely not. But the more you can control what goes into your body by ingesting healthy, real foods, the greater the odds of you staying healthy, strong, injury free. So go get your workout in and reward yourself by making yourself some amazing food to fuel your recovery!
If you have any questions, please contact me.