Nutrition

The Marathoner’s Guide to Pain-Fighting Anti-Inflammatory Foods

By April 15, 2019 No Comments
Runners at the start point

Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof Coffee talks about how you can fight inflammations and continue running. 

Acute and chronic inflammations are two conditions that every marathoner can suffer from.

Acute inflammation occurs after prolonged running, intentionally or unintentionally. During your downtime, white blood cells distribute chemicals to your legs which rebuild and repair your overworked muscles. This process may last for several hours to a few days, depending on the amount of damage your muscles incurred.

While your body is undergoing the necessary repairs, you may feel sore and tired. These feelings of discomfort are signs telling you to give your quads a break. Oftentimes, you may also notice some slight swelling since the fluids carrying the chemicals can expand the tissues.

In case you heeded your body’s need for rest or simply take it easy during the repair process, your muscles will go back to normal. They will even adapt to stress better and even become stronger.

However, if you take a run or work out the next day instead of resting, you will interrupt the healing process. When this happens often, your body may soon suffer from chronic inflammation.

While acute inflammation is healthy for the body, chronic is not. This is because when you have chronic inflammation, you will feel exhausted all the time. And this will certainly impact your performance.

When you suffer from this condition, you will also notice prolonged swelling or tender spots in your legs. Additionally, chronic inflammation will increase your risk of injury, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, if you are over the age of 50.

Reducing Inflammation With Food

Allowing your body to recuperate by taking breaks, giving it enough time to relax, and getting enough sleep are crucial for reducing inflammation and helping in your recovery. Eating the right types of food will help fight off the pain and inflammation as well.

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If you are a marathoner or frequent runner, here are five foods that you should include in your diet that will reduce inflammation, pain and swelling:

1.     Coffee and tea

Coffee is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant or phytochemical that plays various roles in keeping the body healthy and fit. Polyphenols fight cancer cells, protect your skin against UV rays, fight free radicals, boost heart health, and reduce inflammation.

Organic whole bean coffee is a good source of hydroxycinnamic acids, kahweol, cafestol, and other types of polyphenols that are powerful anti-inflammatory substances.

To be sure you will get the right amount of these natural anti-inflammatory agents, choose light-roasted coffee since dark roasting tends to destroy some of the polyphenols. Additionally, brew your coffee without a paper filter since kahweol and cafestol may be removed during the filtering process.

In case you’re not a big fan of coffee, drink green tea. It is rich in polyphenols as well.

And whether you drink coffee or tea, avoid or minimize your intake of sugar. This is because excessive sugar in your diet can worsen your inflammation.

2.     Omega-3 rich foods

Healthy fats have anti-inflammatory agents that will help your body recover faster after a marathon or long run.

When you consume food rich in omega-3, your body makes resolvins. This is a type of natural biochemical that helps fight inflammation by inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals and regulating their movement.

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Other foods rich in this healthy fat are pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

You can also ask your doctor or nutritionist for a workout supplement that contains the right amount of omega-3.

3.     Turmeric

This spice is the most well-known anti-inflammatory food.

Turmeric contains curcumin, a natural chemical which blocks different types of pro-inflammatory enzymes that contribute to chronic inflammation. Certain studies also show that this substance provides the same results in lowering inflammation as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

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Turmeric is also rich in glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10, substances that also help fight inflammation and promote good health.

To experience the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, include it in your dishes. Additionally, you can take a natural curcumin supplement.

4.     Fruits and vegetables

Berries and cherries are the most polyphenol-rich fruits and, as such, should be in your daily diet. They help reduce inflammation and relieve chronic pain.

Tart cherries, in particular, also contain anthocyanins, compounds that help block inflammation and prevent muscle damage.

Eating four to six servings of different vegetables daily will help your body fight inflammation and pain as well. Some of the vegetables with high anti-inflammatory nutrients are broccoli, kale, spinach, asparagus, red cabbage and peppers.

5.     Garlic

This kitchen staple is rich in organosulfur compounds diallyl sulfide and thiacremonone which help lower the production of substances in the blood that boost inflammation.

In addition, a clove of garlic also contains different nutrients that help lower inflammation and increase circulation. These nutrients include vitamins B6 and C, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and polyphenols.

However, make sure you consume garlic raw. Allow crushed or chopped cloves to stand for 10 minutes before cooking so that they don’t lose their healthy components

As a professional marathoner or avid runner, make sure you have a balanced diet that includes lots of anti-inflammatory nutrients. This will allow you to spend more time outdoors instead of indoors complaining about the pain and fatigue you are feeling. And don’t forget to get enough rest and consider getting a massage to hasten your body’s recovery from inflammation.

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Dave Asprey

Dave Asprey

Dave Asprey is the creator of the widely popular Bulletproof Coffee, host of the #1 health podcast, Bulletproof Radio, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, "The Bulletproof Diet." Through his work, the Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur provides information, techniques and keys to taking control of and improving your biochemistry, your body and your mind so they work in unison, helping you execute at levels far beyond what you'd expect, without burning out, getting sick, or allowing stress to control your decisions.