When your body is under a lot of stress, especially if you’re training hard for a race, you can experience chronic inflammation. Inflammation can hinder your performance, increase your risk of injury, and make you more fatigued.
Research suggests that a diet rich in both antioxidants and fibre can reduce inflammation.“By incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet, you’ll help maximise immunity and fuel working muscles,” explains Sports Dietitian Teri Lichtenstein.
Try adding the following five anti-inflammatory foods to your diet:
1. Omega-3-Rich Fish
“Most fish, like Salmon, has a high proportion of omega-3 fats, which provides anti-inflammatory benefits including joint protection, cardiovascular benefits and improved cognition. Fish is also an excellent source of protein to refuel and replenish your muscles,” says Teri.
Top Tip: Try substituting a meaty burger with a salmon burger.
2. Kale (and other leafy greens)
“Studies have suggested that Vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines,” says Teri. “One of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens. Dark greens also tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals – like calcium and iron.”
“Avocados are rich in phytosterols (plant cholesterol), antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties,” says Teri.
Top Tip: Spread an Avocado on a slice of wholegrain bread for breakfast.
4. Strawberries and Raspberries
High in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients (planet derived nutrients): “Most types of berries are antioxidant powerhouses!” says Teri. “And being so delicious they are easy to eat in plenty.”
Top Tip: Eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fresh berries.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
“Extra Virgin Oil contains a high concentration of polyphenols, which have great anti-inflammatory properties,” explains Teri. One of these compounds is oleocanthal, which possesses similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen (pain reliever), according to a study published in 2011.
Top Tip: Pan-fry broccoli in extra virgin olive oil and eat with fresh salmon.