When we become injured or fall ill, we do not hestitate to drop hundreds of dollars on physiotherapists, chiropractors, naturopaths, and the latest technologies in order to get ourselves back to feeling 100%.

Not to discount these treatments, however, one huge pet peeve of mine is to see an athlete “pulling out all the stops” to fix an injury or fight constant joint soreness all the while neglecting a fundamental aspect of injury recovery – nutrition.

Fixing an injury without fixing your nutrition is synonymous to spraying a firehose full of water on a roaring fire on one side of your house, while dumping gasoline on the other side of your house.

Inflammatory foods, such as fried foods, sugars, sweets, white bread and coffee, will do just that – inflame your injury.

So put down the gasoline, or in this case, the cinnamon-glazed doughnut, and read on…

 

What Makes a Food Inflammatory?

There are at least two dozen factors that affect a food’s inflammatory potential, including the amounts and proportions of various fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients, and a food’s glycemic impact, or effect on blood sugar levels.

Unfortunately, like most things in life, its not as clear-cut as one would hope.

Some foods have a combination of inflammation-producing and inflammation-reducing factors. For example, an orange contains antioxidants that can fight inflammation, but also contains natural sugars that can have a mild inflammatory effect.

A good way to cut through the confusion is check out this excellent website that gives an “Inflammation Factor” (IF) for food. The IF Rating system allows you to take a look at whether a specific food is going to have an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effect. Further, you can determine the inflammatory potential of entire meals or recipes by adding up the IF Ratings of the individual foods.

 

Anti-Inflammationary Foods To Keep Handy 

Pineapple

Labelled by experts as “nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory”, pineapple is packed with the enzyme bromelain, which produces substances that help fight pain and inflammation and encourages healing.

Add a few slices to your post-workout smoothie, or enjoy as a mid-morning snack.

Ginger

Two studies from the University of Georgia show that 2 grams of ginger per day can help fight inflammation and reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.

Add to your green juice or as a garnish to your salad.

Blueberries

Not only are blueberries jam-packed with antioxidants, they are high in phytonutrients that limit inflammation, stop tissue breakdown, and improve circulation. And lucky for us – they taste delicious!

Pomegranates

Not a fan of blueberries – never fear! Also known as “the jewel of autumn”, pomegranates contain antioxidant flavonoids that have the same effect, reducing inflammation and preventing tissue breakdown.

Eggplant

Now there is more than one good reason to hoe in to the Baba Ghanoush! Eggplants contain a powerful antioxidant called nasunin, known to protect cell membranes from damage by free radicals. However, if you suffer from low iron or a prone to kidney stones, give this vegetable a miss as eggplants bind with iron and remove it from cells, and can also contribute to kidney stone formation.

Turmeric

This Asian spice contains a powerful compound called curcumin, a widely recognized herbal anti-inflammatory that has proven in studies to be as effective in reducing inflammation as injectable cortisone.

Time to get the cookbook out and whip up a delicious chicken curry for dinner!

Alternatively, curcumin can be purchased in supplement form, with EXOS being one of the most recommended brands as it uses a phytosome-bound botanical extract to ensure maximum absorption.

Additional Options

Other foods with very high IF ratings to include in your diet are garlic, peppers, parsley, tart cherries, dark leafy greens, onions, salmon, avocado and apple cider vinegar.

So kick-start the healing process and eat your way to recovery with these nutrient-packed foods!

Read next: More health tips from Ben Greenfield or Health tips on Exercise Recovery 

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