Brighton Spine and Sports Clinic | Foods that reduce inflammation
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Foods that reduce inflammation

Foods that reduce inflammation

Inflammation happens to everyone, it is part of our body’s natural response to damaged tissues and also plays a role in the immune system response.
Acute inflammation is important for healing after exercise; however excessive inflammation can result in prolonged feelings of soreness, tenderness, swelling, and also in a loss of function (reduces range of motion). There are various strategies that can be used to help decrease acute and chronic inflammation, but for the purpose of today’s blog we will be looking at foods that can assist in the role of decreasing inflammation in our body:

Omega – 3
Known as an essential fatty acid which means it cannot be produced by the body, we therefore need to get them from food sources. There are quite a few healthy benefits that can be provided through the correct intake of omega-3’s in our diet; they help reduce rheumatoid arthritis, lower fats in our blood and they also provide our bodies with an anti-inflammatory effect. They have been seen to reduce inflammation and help promote recovery following bouts of resistance training. Foods that contain omega-3: Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, cod, tuna; nuts and seeds like walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds
Tip: Grind in omega-3 rich nuts or seeds with your post-workout shake.

Antioxidants
These are found in various fruits and vegetables, and they play an important role in removing harmful compounds from our body known as free radicals. Vitamins A, C and E, bioflavonoids, polyphenols and glutathione are some good examples of antioxidants. Many berries like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and other cherries contain great antioxidant compounds that have been shown to help reduce inflammation as well as chronic disease risk.
Tip: Have a handful of mixed berries as a daily snack choice. Alternatively, you can also (yes, you guessed it) grind it into your post or even pre-workout shake.

Phytochemicals
These are chemicals produced by plants that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Foods that are rich in phytochemicals range from various berries, vegetables that are green, red, or orange in colour (such as sweet peppers), peanuts, and whole grain products.
Tip: Include colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet, whether this be at breakfast, lunch or dinner that’s up to you. The way you can achieve this is to include a “colourful” salad as a side to your main course.

Curcumin
This is a yellow-like substance which can be found in some Asian meals, such as curry, and is the most active component in the yellow spice turmeric. It has been seen to reduce soreness and inflammation after exercise. Research suggests that Curcumin has the ability, at molecular level, to target several steps in the inflammation pathway.
Tip: Add turmeric to your carbohydrates. If you are going to eat rice or perhaps you are carbo-loading for an event, adding the turmeric spice can be a great option to combat stiffness and soreness.

Beetroot Juice
Along with its suggested effect of dilating blood vessels to allow for more oxygen transportation towards working muscles, it has also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Beets contain a micronutrient called betaine which has anti-inflammatory properties as it has been associated with reduced levels inflammatory markers.
Tip: Drink a glass (250-300mL) 2 hours before an endurance activity to get the best benefits from it.

Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin is important as it helps to regulate anti-inflammatory cells as well as muscle growth. It has been well known for many years that vitamin D is important for bone health as it helps with the absorption of calcium. Low vitamin D levels are associated with a few diseases including arthritis.
Vitamin D food sources include oily fish, fortified breakfast cereals, milk and mushrooms.

If you’re one of those people who enjoy being out in the sun and don’t tend to get sunburnt easily, then this is another method of obtaining great amounts of vitamin D. If you live in a climate that doesn’t usually offer a lot of sunlight, then a vitamin D supplement might be your best bet.

Tip: Instead of mixing your post-workout protein shake with water, try using milk instead. It will also provide you with great amount of casein protein that can assist with muscle repair.

Final word: it is not a secret that there is a relationship between strenuous, harder bouts of training or exercise and increased levels of inflammation, and it shouldn’t be a secret that a good diet can help relieve inflammation and therefore allow you to do more high intensity activity in a week as recovery becomes quicker. If you require a more personalised anti-inflammatory meal plan, please make an appointment with our in-house dietitian Amy Peng.