Peak Performance Tip: Chronic low-level inflammation can cause serious health problems. Put out the fire with a diet rich in the following foods.
Athletes and non-athletes are well acquainted with the redness, heat, swelling, and pain associated with inflammation. When it’s working properly, this natural immune response aids healing.
Chronic low-level inflammation, caused by persistent irritation, stress, and/or an overactive immune response, isn’t so obvious. And that’s the problem. Chronic inflammation can cause a host of serious diseases and conditions, including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.
If your diet includes refined sugars and trans fats, you’ve been exposed to environmental toxins (who hasn’t been?), you don’t sleep soundly, and/or you tend to over-train, you’re no doubt dealing with some level of chronic inflammation. Food (more of the good stuff and much less of the bad) and smart supplementation are the best way to fight it. Start now by increasing your intake of these inflammation tamers:
1. Omega-3-rich fish and nuts. The omega-3 fatty acids in Alaskan salmon, sardines, and herring are potent anti-inflammatories that also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fats are also found in walnuts and flax seed. To be sure your daily omega-3 intake is sufficient. You can supplement with Isa Omega a blend rich in Omega-3 fats.
2. Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Anthocyanin compounds that give these fruits their rich color are believed to play a role in these fruits’ ability to prevent inflammation.
3. Cherries, especially tart cherries, contain a unique combination of plant compounds shown to reduce inflammation. Impressive research with humans supports its ability to lessen post-exercise pain and inflammation, while accelerating recovery. In other studies, tart cherries (or juice) decreased the inflammation and pain of arthritis, reduced gout attacks, and lowered triglyceride levels.
4. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts, also quell inflammation. In a recent study of more than 1,000 women, researchers found that those who consumed 1.5 cups of cruciferous vegetables daily had significantly fewer inflammatory molecules in their bloodstream compared to those who ate 1 cup per day or 1/2 cup a day.
5. Spices: ginger, cayenne, turmeric. For millennia, many cultures have used these spices for both cooking and healing. Modern scientists now are exploring the compounds that make these plants such effective healing agents, and learning more about their powerful anti- inflammatory benefits. Studies have shown that ginger can significantly reduce the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis. The fruit of cayenne and other hot chili peppers contains capsaicin, now widely used in topical creams to ease muscle and joint pain and to treat the inflammation of psoriasis. Turmeric contains dozens of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the extremely powerful curcumin. Hundreds of studies have supported this spice’s ability to relieve a wide range of inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis. Turmeric, as well as the anti-inflammatory herbs boswellia, devil’s claw, and yucca root are great too!
Eat these foods liberally to enjoy better health and pain-free exercise year-round!
BY VICKI HACKMAN