Unfortunately, inflammation can be a problem for many athletes, even if you take care and consideration in your daily routine. However, there are some pretty reasonable solutions; so whether you’re experiencing discomfort, have some swelling in your knees, or your body hurts from something you ate, you must know that you have options beyond reaching for the bottle in the medicine cabinet. Advil can be a savior for any intense bouts of inflammation, but, generally speaking, an athlete has healthier options than over-the-counter drugs in order to consistently control the negative effects of inflammation. Speaking to this, altering your diet can be one of your biggest allies for fighting inflammation while also aiding your training!
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS TO ADD
As you’d likely predict, this category of potential includes all incredibly healthy options. You won’t find junk food, sugary drinks, or energy boosters here! For a simple option, try flaxseed; in addition to being high in Omega-3s, the lignans found in flaxseed actually inhibit the formation of platelets. This protects blood vessels from excessive inflammatory damage and potential injury. In short, get creative and add flaxseed to your diet as often as possible to reduce inflammation. After that, you’ve got some tasty options like wild salmon, which contains high levels of EPA + DHA, two Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation.
Additionally, you’ve got blueberries, loaded with antioxidants, and mushrooms that can both provide anti-inflammatory benefits also! Finally, you’ve got the always wonderful green tea that works to reduce inflammation and protects the body against heart disease and cancer.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS TO AVOID
This should be relatively obvious, but try to consider everything that you’re putting in your body before competitions or training. Whether you realize it or, there are loads and loads of trap foods out there just waiting to trip your hard work up. So, if at all, possible, try avoiding these foods, or, at the very least, use them in considerable moderation.
Sugar, of course, is the largest contributor to inflammation in the organs. Believe it or not, sugar is prevalent in more foods than just the sweets and drinks you expect as it is used as an ingredient to make almost any food or sauce more delicious and desirable. Watch out for white flour and pasta, as these simple carbohydrates break down very fast and lead to inflammation; instead opt for whole grains whenever possible.
Furthermore, aside from the cardiovascular benefits of one glass of red wine, there aren’t many health benefits from drinking alcohol, but you can add inflammation to the list of unwanted health consequences as a result of drinking. Try cutting out trans fats as well — this includes deep fried foods, fast foods, as well as many baked goods, because they can lead to unwanted inflammation. Unfortunately, trans fat consumption will not only raise bad cholesterol levels, but it also will reduce good cholesterol as well.
This final one may be a shocker, but here goes: dairy. Curiously enough, the majority of humans are not able to digest milk and that after infancy there is no reason to consume it every meal. The milk of a cow is not intended for human digestion, but unfortunately, like sugar, dairy can be found everywhere in our foods. Acne and inflammation are both undesirable consequences of eating dairy, so grab some kefir and greek yogurt because they’re healthier options.
(Related: Read about some safe and effective squat progressions here.)
Now, it’s important to understand that we’re not asking you cut out all of your consumption here, particularly because they’re very tasty sometimes, but just consider it in moderation. For a very long time, developing humans are conditioned to have dairy at every meal or the potential attraction to fast foods are too much to ignore, but even just eliminating at little bit at a time can go a far way towards improvement. When you take care of your body, your body will take care of you — it really is as simple as that. So, cut out the sugar, grab some mushrooms and greek yogurt, and start seeing some improvement! What are you waiting for?
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones in the gym.