Did you start the New Year off by trying a new diet and/or exercise regimens? Whether you have started going to a hot yoga or kickboxing class, working different muscles and parts of your body can be painful (in a strengthening kind of way of course!). By waking up muscle groups that haven’t been exercised before, sometimes you can experience soreness or tightness in that area that you haven’t felt previously. In addition to proper warm up’s and cool down’s during your workouts, there may be some foods that have anti-inflammatory benefits that may be beneficial to incorporate into your meals. Aches and pains, heart disease and also diabetes may also be related to the body being in an inflammatory state. Sugar and saturated fat may actually trigger the body’s inflammatory response. On the other hand, there are some foods that are higher in anti-inflammatory nutrients that may help ease post-workout aches and pains.
- Whole grains, in contrast to refined grains, are high in fiber. Fiber has been studied for its effect on C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker in the blood. When choosing a product made with whole grains, check the ingredient list to assure that it is first in the list (versus refined grain or flour) and that the item has no added sugar.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s have been shown in research to decrease inflammation although to reap this benefit, fish needs to be consumed several times per week. Fish-oil supplements may be considered if increased consumption of fish is not achievable.
- Dark green leafy greens contain high amounts of vitamin E ~ a nutrient that may have a role protecting the body from cytokines (pro-inflammatory molecules). Kale, spinach, broccoli and collard greens are all good sources of vitamin E.
- Nuts are another good food source of vitamin E, antioxidants and fiber. Walnuts are specifically high alpha linolenic acid, a type of Omega 3 fat. These nutrients can help the body fight the repair caused by inflammation.
- Beets contain high amounts of antioxidants ~ their bright, beautiful color should tip you off on some powerful plant pigments! Betalains, a pigment found in beets, have been found to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support to the body.
These are just some examples of foods to “work in” to your diets due to their potential anti-inflammatory qualities. With the New Year just starting, and for many, new workout routines, incorporating these foods into meal plans may help ease post-exercise aches. Not only do many of these foods provide anti-inflammatory nutrients, but also contain other health supportive qualities too.