Anti-inflammatory foods you should eat
We all know the feeling of soreness and aching after a few training days. Your quads might cramp when you make your way down the toilet seat, every step on the stairs is one too many for your glutes or you are not able to lift your arms higher than a 90-degree zombie angle. Whatever the consequence of your dedicated training sessions, you’d like to get some help to ease the aching of those joints and muscles.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is our body’s response to injury or stressors, including tissue damage you get from exercise. When you do a workout, your break down muscle tissue and the body creates inflammation to get more cells into the area and repair the tissue. If the stressor is acute and short-lived with enough time to recover, inflammation is a positive part of the response that makes you stronger and makes you adapt to handling the same or greater stress in the future: i.e. you grow.
To reduce the delayed onset muscle soreness (also known as DOMS), we already mapped out how you can make use of different ways to recover your body. Besides these simple tools, one of the best ways to help reduce inflammation is through nutrition by eating anti-inflammatory foods. These are foods that help soothe your body instead of agitating it.
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) play a key role in regulating inflammation and other processes like blood clotting. They are essential as the body can’t produce them and we need to source them from food. You can these fatty acids in fatty seafood such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna. The supplement krill oil is also beneficial to flush the inflammation out of your body.
Anthocyanins found in cherries and other dark berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have an anti-inflammatory effect. They are the perfect snack to grab after a workout: blend them in your favourite smoothie, add them to a fresh salad or a mix them in a bowl of plain Greek yoghurt for a healthy post-workout snack.
3. Whole grain carbs
Unless you have a gluten allergy, whole grains are a great food source that will fight inflammation and speed up your recovery. The best sources are made with the entire grain kernel, such as whole-wheat flour, oats, bulgur, brown rice, and quinoa.
The best spices that have anti-inflammatory properties are turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. These are easy spices to add to yoghurt or your post-workout smoothie for added flavour and recovery benefit. Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory, pain-killing compound called curcumin, which you can mix in a soup or add to stir-fried vegetables.
5. Leafy greens
One good inflammation-fighting choice most of us don’t have enough of is dark leafy greens. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, arugula, endives, broccoli and Brussel sprouts contain concentrations of vitamins and other nutrients that reduce inflammation and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.
Inducing and reducing inflammation
Some foods are at the root of causing inflammation and muscle soreness. In order to reach peak fitness, it is a good idea to reduce your consumption of these foods. Examples of inflammatory inducing foods are alcohol, refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries, and junk food like French fries, soda, and processed meats. Not only food, but other life factors like physical and psychological stress, lack of sleep and hormonal balance can cause inflammation to endure.
To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy food intake, which is high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, fish, nuts, and healthy fats. Having a healthy inflammation response is the key predictor for living a long healthy life. Besides lowering inflammation, a less processed diet will have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health.