We know that exercise is important to good health, but often times fueling to enhance and protect your body from the effect of exercise is often overlooked!
Depending on the intensity, duration and frequency of your exercise routine, you may want to tweak your fueling plan to maximize your performance, recovery and health! Below we discuss inflammation and healthy foods to help the effects of chronic inflammation!
DID YOU KNOW? Physical activity can actually produce an inflammatory response, leading to chronic inflammation, which can inhibit athletic performance.
Exercise is a physical stressor, and the exercise stress response follows similar inflammatory physiological pathways to those activated by other physical and mental stimuli. During exercise, the primary hormones that get released are the same as those secreted when the body is reacting to mental and emotional stressors. Stress causes a temporary decrease in function, followed by an adaptation that improves function. In order to improve athletic ability, it is necessary to increase efforts to fatigue-level intensities and then recover and refuel.
High intensity exercise typically causes some degree of muscle damage. This triggers the immune system to respond in a number of ways, including an inflammatory response to help muscle repair. While this process of acute inflammation promotes muscle regeneration, chronic inflammation can slow the body’s ability to repair muscle tissue. However, inflammation can be countered or decreased with nutrition.
Can Food be Anti-Inflammatory?
- Ingesting electrolyte/carbohydrate solutions during a long, intense workout, practice or game, improves endurance and reduces the cortisol (stress hormone) response ten-fold compared to drinking water alone.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory (they help to decrease production of pro-inflammatory proteins in your body).
- Consumption of a carbohydrate and protein meal within an hour, then again within three hours post-workout, can help to improve the anabolic (building/repair) hormonal response significantly.
- Glutamine (an amino acid) catalyzes, or speeds up, the muscle repair process.
- Antioxidants support the immune system, which helps fight inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory Dietary Tips
- Omit intake trans-fat and limit intake of saturated fats (Sources include: processed foods and baked goods, high-fat meats / cheese, fried foods).
- Reduce intake of highly processed and packaged foods.
- Increase intake of omega-3 fats (Sources include: salmon and other cold-water fish, avocado, walnuts, seeds, plant oils).
- Incorporate more fruits and vegetables at meals / snacks.
- If you have been tested and have known food sensitivities, avoid those as best possible, as they enhance chronic inflammation.
Include More Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Nuts (raw when possible)
- Tart Cherries
- Fatty Fish
- Whole Grains
- Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, greens, brussels)
- Leafy Greens