As an athlete, being in good physical shape is vital for your success. Inflammation can affect this state as it disrupts your body’s health. You will not be able to perform optimally as the body will struggle with inflammation.
Thankfully, there are measures you can take to prevent inflammation and its effects on your body — one of them is incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet. Read on to learn more about inflammation and the foods you can eat to prevent it.
Generally, inflammation refers to your body’s natural response to injury. Through inflammation, the body heals all wounds you might have. However, while inflammation is meant to help the body, it can also result in chronic illnesses. For instance, chronic inflammation can result in significant damage if left unaddressed. It damages healthy organs, tissues, and cells and might also cause internal scarring.
Even worse, inflammation triggers tissue death and damages the DNA in healthy cells. This affects your body’s functionality, and you will not be able to compete as before. In its advanced stages, inflammation can cause potentially life-threatening diseases like cancer or Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is vital to protect yourself from such risks by consuming foods that reduce inflammation.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods comes with many health benefits. Generally, foods with anti-inflammatory traits are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, omega-3 fats, and other crucial nutrients.
Consuming these healthy nutrients helps keep your immune system strong. When you eat anti-inflammatory foods, you protect your cells from possible damage like chronic conditions.
This diet also plays a key role by blocking harmful inflammatory pathways throughout the body. By doing so, your body will have minimum exposure to inflammation and its effects. Athletes are encouraged to use an anti-inflammatory diet, as it reduces the risk of developing chronic conditions.
You can subject your body to intense training without worrying about inflammation. People already suffering from chronic conditions can use an anti-inflammatory diet to manage symptoms. Besides, they can rely on anti-inflammatory foods to prevent chronic conditions from worsening.
There are many causes of inflammation, one of which is the foods you eat. Here are some of the inflammatory foods you should avoid.
Fried foods such as fast foods, fried chicken, and french fries are highly inflammatory. They have high levels of omega-6 fatty acids that are not good for your health. Besides, they contain trans fats that increase the risk of inflammation. Fried foods produce harmful compounds in the body known as AGEs. These compounds stimulate the rate of inflammation in your body and affect performance.
Consuming a lot of refined sugar will have a negative impact on your body. While sugar is an important part of an athlete’s diet, refined sugars should be avoided at all costs. Foods such as candy, pastry, and non-organic sweet chocolates have refined sugars that trigger inflammation. They can also increase chronic inflammation and raise blood pressure. Both of these conditions are common causes of heart disease.
This is not the path an athlete should take, especially with the increasing cases of heart problems among professional athletes. Consuming too many refined sugars also causes metabolic disorders and triggers inflammatory mediators. Therefore, it is crucial that athletes keep off refined sugars.
Meats cooked at high temperatures are inflammatory. This includes processed meats such as sausage, bacon, canned precooked meat, and ham. Processed meats are associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Artificial trans fats can cause long-term inflammation. They can also increase the risk of cancer, insulin resistance, and diabetes. While these conditions are rare among athletes, those with excess weight and obesity are significantly affected. The significant decline in trans fats in the modern diet is a good sign for many.
While athletes rely on carbohydrates for energy, refined carbohydrates are bad news. This is because refined carbohydrates increase the risk of inflammation. Refined carbohydrates have the same effect as refined sugars, as nothing slows down their breakdown. When this happens, there is increased blood sugar that triggers an inflammatory response.
Alcohol consumption is generally not good for your health. Excessive alcohol consumption triggers many health problems, including inflammation. Heavy drinkers may develop problems with bacterial toxins moving out of the colon and into the body. Also referred to as leaky gut, this condition causes extensive inflammation that results in organ damage.
Many natural anti-inflammatory foods help reduce the risk of inflammation. Some of them include the following:
Vegetables like broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower have anti-inflammatory benefits. They operate as anti-inflammatory flavonoids and are very rich in cellular health. Kale, for example, is rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C, which help prevent inflammation. Therefore, you are encouraged to incorporate vegetables into your diet.
Fruits such as berries, grapes, pomegranates, olives, avocados, and cherries are anti-inflammatory. These fruits also supplement your body with other essential nutrients key to your activities as an athlete. Besides, berries contain a strong antioxidant called quercetin that helps reduce inflammation and its effects.
If you want to experience the benefits of reducing inflammation in the body, you should consider including fatty fish in your diet. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and anchovies contain a high amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
Raw or roasted nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts are anti-inflammatory. They contain high amounts of vegetable protein, calcium, fiber, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3, which helps reduce inflammation. To avoid added sugar and keep things healthy, always go for single-ingredient nut butters that contain nothing else besides the nut itself.
Healthy fats like flaxseed oil, olive oil, and avocado oil have omega-3, which is known to be anti-inflammatory. Incorporating these healthy fats into your diet will keep your body in great shape.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants with major anti-inflammatory effects. They also have flavanols that help reduce inflammation and keep cells healthy.
For an athlete, good physical condition is vital for success. Inflammation hinders this success as it affects your body’s health. Thankfully, you can prevent the effects of inflammation by avoiding inflammatory foods and adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.