Inflammation is a natural response driven by our immune system to protect the body from an infection, a trauma, or physical stress. For example, as an athlete you may at some point experience redness, swelling, heat, pain, or loss of tissue function, which is the inflammatory response to an injury or trauma.
The immune system response usually resolves the injury quickly and the symptoms of inflammation subside. However, without adequate rest and proper nutrition, regular intense exercise or endurance training can result in chronic inflammation which may lead to tendinitis, gut issues, headaches, aches and pains, allergies, food intolerance, frequent colds, and sinus infections.
Adequate nutrition is key in managing the inflammation that comes with athletic training. Poor food choices such as eating pro-inflammatory, processed foods (refined grains, breads, pasta, cereal, fast food, sugary beverages, energy drinks, ice cream, cakes, candy, cookies, and pies) will exacerbate any inflammation present in the body. However, eating foods rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients may help prevent or delay inflammatory damage.
Some key anti-inflammatory foods to introduce into your diet.
· Cruciferous vegetables are particularly important as they are rich in phytonutrients, they have anti-inflammatory qualities and are nutrient dense. The deeper the colour, the more nutrients the greens contain. Vegetables such as Bok choy, Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower are a great start.
· Brightly coloured fruits are packed with vitamins, magnesium, phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help protect the body against free radicals. Fruits such as apples, all berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.), cherries, grapes, oranges, and pomegranate seeds are powerful therapeutic foods.
· Anti-inflammatory spices and herbs such as ginger, turmeric and rosemary should also be added to your daily routine. Add 1-2 centimetres of ginger root to your post workout smoothie along with some blueberries. It is a wonderful way to feed your body some essential anti-inflammatory food.
· Omega-3 fats found in fatty fish such as sardines, wild salmon, oysters, mackerel, tuna steak, wild rainbow trout, albacore tuna, and herring are excellent choices to ease inflammation and maintain the healthy ratio of Omega-3 vs Omega-6. Aim to eat these fresh fish two to three times a week.
At the practice, we support athletes with a cutting-edge inflammatory marker tests and the Omega-3 Index test which simply measures the amount of EPA and DHA in your body. These are non-invasive tests which will allow us to better understand your needs so that we can work together to support your body.