Adjusting your diet can help fight inflammation
Contributor: Kylene Bogden MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN
Can’t shake the soreness after starting an exercise program? Constantly reinjuring a muscle or tendon during your workouts?
The problem is likely to be inflammation.
The foods you eat can be part of the solution.
Inflammation, a vital part of healing, is your natural biological response to a wide range of triggers. Your body tries to remove these triggers so your tissues can heal.
The classic signs of inflammation — swelling, pain, redness and loss of function — usually appear after an injury.
Adjusting your diet can help you decrease inflammation and allow you to continue exercising.
Time to rethink your diet
The key is to shift to a hunter-gatherer style diet, focused on:
- Free-range meat
- Wild-caught fish
- Whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, etc.)
- Anti-inflammatory spices: turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon
These foods naturally fight inflammation with an array of nutrients that are:
- Low on the glycemic index (less likely to make blood sugar spike)
- Rich in fiber
- High in omega-3 fats
Superfoods for your shopping list
Here are my top picks for superfoods to eat weekly. They’ll help you fight post-workout inflammation and restore cellular function.
Pure brain food! Avocados are a great source of quality fat, vitamin E, potassium and glutathione (a potent antioxidant)
Tip: Blend half an avocado into your morning smoothie for a more creamy texture.
This powerful nut is a great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, glutathione and beneficial fat. Almonds are reported to help with memory and attention.
Tip: Puree almonds in your food processor for a creamy (and cost-effective) nut butter spread. Delicious on fresh fruit as a portable pre-workout snack!
3. Green tea
Green tea: Chock full of antioxidants, green tea helps decrease damage to mitochondria. These engines in our cells digest nutrients and create energy-rich molecules for our bodies to use.
Tip: Fill ice cube trays with green tea, drop a few berries into each cube, and freeze. Pop a few out to flavor your water. For a refreshing afternoon beverage, your cubes for a beverage with an icier consistency.
Sea vegetables are an excellent source of minerals: selenium, magnesium, and sometimes calcium and iodine.
Tip: Seaweed chips too strong for your liking? Chop and simmer sea vegetables in soups and stews for a subtler flavor.
It’s the MVP of the brassica family and one of the most powerful detoxifying agents in grocery stores. All veggies are beneficial, but broccoli stands out.
Its sulphoraphane and glutathione are reported to help protect your brain from excessive inflammation.
Tip: Roast broccoli on a baking sheet instead of boiling or sautéing it for a delicious crunch. Drizzle with an oil you’ve never tried before, like walnut, almond or avocado oil for a new spin on flavor.
It’s easy to start working these superfoods into your diet:
- Crave protein? Grab a handful of nuts instead of a sugary granola bar.
- Thirsty? Drink coconut water instead of artificially flavored sports drinks.
- Planning dinner? Opt for legumes in place of processed pasta.