Athletes are prone to inflammation in the body because of continuous impact through various athletic routines. Along with muscle growth, gained endurance, increasing strength, there is also an increase in the inflammation response. Stress, increasing cortisol, swelling of joints, and the changing composition of muscle proteins add to the body’s response to repair, rebuild, and rejuvenate.
Micro-Traumas Increase Inflammation
As the body works to adapt to the athletes’ activities, micro-traumas occur in the muscles, tissues, bone, and joints. The small traumas help athletes to endure and withstand future workouts. Although regular exercise can decrease inflammation in the body, sound nutrition is also needed to fight the natural healing process.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods & Recommended Supplements
The following foods can naturally fight inflammation. A few recommended supplements are also provided which help to alleviate the inflammation process.
Fish Oil – EPA and DHA hold anti-inflammatory properties. EPA in addition to DHA can be found in fish oil, and cold water fish (fresh tuna, fresh salmon). The omega-3 fatty acids help fight swelling in the joints and overall inflammation.
CoQ10 – CoQ10 can inhibit lipid and protein oxidation which occurs in the body. This substance is oil soluble and has anti-oxidant effects on the body which will reduce inflammation as well as oxidative stress. When combined with vitamin E, CoQ10 works more effectively.
Probiotics – Fermented foods added to the diet help maintain immunity and control infection. By adding probiotic foods (or supplements), a good gut will help to fight inflammation.
Fruit & Veggie Juicing – Juicing fruits and vegetables provide more nutrients to the body. When consumed, the juice is quickly absorbed (the walls of the foods are already broken down through the juicing process). Adding fresh juices to the diet provides mega-dosages of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals – which all help with reducing inflammation.
Pineapple – This fruit is packed with vitamin C and bromelain. Bromelain aids in breaking down proteins, increases digestion, lowers swelling and improves circulation.
Broccoli – This vegetable is a wonderful source of vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, as well as calcium. Broccoli is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Sweet Potato – This food is full of vitamin B6, vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, and fiber. Sweet potatoes hold powerful anti-oxidant properties which aid healing in the body.
Ginger – Adding ginger to the diet will help depress inflammation. The spice holds properties like NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs). Ginger can suppress prostaglandins without any side effect.
Turmeric – Turmeric contains curcumin which blocks inflammation naturally and is also used much like NSAIDs. This spice also inhibits prostaglandins, blocking inflammation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Olive oil naturally fights inflammation and helps to lower the risk of developing asthma as well as arthritis. The oil is heart healthy and is used in the Mediterranean diet.
Foods & Supplements to Avoid Which Increase Inflammation
A variety of foods can increase inflammation in individuals. Many are unaware of what is causing inflammation in the body and may not realize these are main offenders. The common ones are listed below and should be avoided at all costs.
Hydrogenated Fats & Trans Fats – Fats found in baked goods, processed foods, and margarine contain oils which are poorly made. Trans fats increase “bad” cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. They also lower “good” cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, which provides a double curse. Hydrogenated and trans fats increase the inflammatory response in the body, increase obesity rates, and further add to the resistance of insulin.
Feedlot Meats – Commercially raised cattle are typically found in feedlots. These cattle and animals are fed grains which are unhealthy. With the eating of these meats, over-consumption of omega 6 fatty acids result. More omega 3 fatty acids (found in fresh fatty fish) are needed in the body for balance to fight inflammation naturally.
Sugar – Eating sugary foods creates inflammation within the body. Sugar is hidden in many different products in the market. Sugar also raises the levels of insulin in the body creating an auto-immune response.
Dairy Foods – Many individuals are unaware of how dairy foods increase inflammation. The body does not easily process lactose and casein in these products. Choosing fermented dairy foods is best for optimal health.
Wheat Products – In the Western world, gluten intolerance is on the rise. Wheat is highly inflammatory and increases acid formation in many. Wheat products today are often produced which are modified genetically.
Fried Foods – Deep fried foods and products contain AGEs (advanced glycation end products) which are bad for health. AGEs are known to cause inflammation which create medical implications.
Alcohol – Overconsumption of alcohol creates a major burden on the body and promotes unneeded inflammation.
Promoting the Best Possible Results
As discussed, certain foods are helpful for fighting inflammation and will increase the body’s efficiency, especially in athletes. Knowing the foods to avoid will also increase the overall enjoyment of having a healthy, fully functioning body. Keeping inflammation at a minimum will help provide the best possible results for an active lifestyle!
Dr. Colbert recommends the following products to aid in an anti-inflammatory diet:
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