Reduce Inflammation with Proper Nutrition
Inflammation is a response by our body’s immune system to stress, which can be caused by illness, injury and strenuous exercise. Short-term or acute inflammation is necessary in order to recover from a hard training session. However, on-going or chronic inflammation that doesn’t shut off can lead to negative consequences. In particular for athletes, chronic inflammation can lead to longer recovery times, muscle soreness, decreased immunity (more sick days) and decreased performance. It’s important to make lifestyle choices that prevent chronic inflammation including proper nutrition, adequate sleep, rest days and recovery nutrition.
Here are a few ways you can improve your diet to reduce inflammation:
Cook with spices: Many spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon contain anti-inflammatory compounds. A few ways to use spices include adding fresh ginger and garlic to stirfrys, using fresh turmeric in smoothies, and sprinkling cinnamon on yogurt and oatmeal.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and aim for all colours each day: These contain antioxidants and phytochemicals which play a role in recovery, overall health and energy. Make fruit and veggies a part of every meal and try to include them at some snacks. Choose darker greens like kale and spinach. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and can be much more cost effective.If you are picky about vegetables, try roasting them. This brings out a lot of the natural sweetness. Beets, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, berries and pineapple are some examples of fruits and vegetables with antioxidant properties.
Eat sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids regularly: Aim to have fish 2-3 times per week. Fatty fish highest in omega 3 are salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies and arctic char. Try having a canned salmon or tuna sandwich in place of deli meat if that is your go-to. Chia, flax and hemp seeds and walnuts are also sources of omega 3. Snack on walnuts and sprinkle chia onto yogurt or oatmeal. Hemp seeds can be added to salad and smoothies.
Choose whole grains more often: Instead of refined grains like white bread, sugary cereals, white rice or crackers made with white flour, choose whole grains since these contain fibre, antioxidants and more vitamins and minerals. When reading the labels or looking at packages of breads, cereal and crackers look for the “100% whole grain.” Quinoa, brown rice, barley and whole grain pasta are all great choices as well.
Read nutrition labels and ingredients lists: Choose foods with ingredients you understand and choose ones that do not have a lot of added sugars.
Cut back on deep fried and highly processed foods.
Eating a healthy diet requires some extra planning and preparation ahead of time. If you require any support in changing your diet, contact me with any questions. As an athlete, nutrition plays a major role in your performance, how you feel and your overall health. Fuel your body properly to achieve your greatest potential!
Andrea Docherty is a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist with a private practice in Windsor, Ontario , Andrea Docherty Nutrition. For nutrition counselling and more information, visit her website