With the third week of the Open approaching, some killer WODs (eg, Misery), and recent shoveling, some athletes might be feeling a bit of pain! Here are ways to leverage food to fight soreness and inflammation.
Eat lots of vegetables and fruits each day (2 cups leafy greens, 1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked each = 1 serving) 5 or more servings per day is ideal!
- Vegetables, in a wide variety of colors (deep red, orange, and green), such as, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, peppers, dark leafy greens (eg, spinach, kale, collard greens), as well as, garlic and onions are terrific choices.
- Deeply colored fruits, specifically, blueberries, tart cherries, and pomegranates. All three of these have small studies with some supporting their role in reducing muscle soreness.
- More available this time of year are citrus fruits, oranges and grapefruit. Grapes, widely available now also contain helpful antioxidants.
- Even vegetables with little color, like the cauliflower, is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant.
Use extra virgin olive oil.
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is less refined and processed than oils labeled just olive oil, and preliminary evidence suggests that one component, oleocanthal, may be the reason that EVOO appears to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Use spices and herbs to season foods.
- Turmeric has been written about extensively for its anti-inflammatory properties. Using this spice to season foods appears safe for everyone, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Supplements are not recommended because the amounts (high or low) are not regulated. Do not consume turmeric if you are on a blood thinner; it can interact with this type of medication.
- Ginger appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. Consume in food, chew small amounts, or brew like tea.
- Other herbs and spices may join the ranks and be shown to fight inflammation in the future, but in the meantime, these are great for flavoring foods and using less salt.
Include food rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- 7 ounces of fatty fish (eg, salmon, mackerel, flounder, sardines, and other fatty fish) are recommended per week. All are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Higher amounts should be consumed with caution, especially in at risk groups (children and pregnant women) due to the high mercury content.
- Non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts and chia seeds, although, the omega-3’s might be less available from these sources.
Reduce processed foods.
Refined carbohydrates, fried foods, sugary foods, cured meats, and alcohol cause inflammation so go easy on these.
Although it can be a challenge to achieve all of these ideals, eating more whole plant foods can really make a difference in your overall health and in fighting soreness and inflammation.
Next week: The good, bad, and the ugly of the Keto Diet
Happy and healthful eating,
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN
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