It’s crucial as an athlete heading into the fall season that you drink enough water and get your carbs, protein and dietary fat. But there are also a few lesser-known essentials for sports success. I talked in my last post about the benefits of omega-3s. Omega-3s are one part of a larger nutritional category known as anti-inflammatory foods.
Anti-inflammatory foods are critical to success throughout the season because inflammation isn’t just an unwanted side-effect of exercise – it’s a key part of how the body becomes better, stronger and faster through working out.
Any time you exercise, you cause “adaptive micro-trauma” to your muscles – meaning you actually damage or inflame them (in a good way). The body’s anti-inflammatory response to this damage is to clear away the wreckage and rebuild – with a bonus. With each post-workout rebuilding session (provided you have proper nutrition), your muscles become a little stronger and more resilient, and you gain a few more blood vessels bringing in more oxygen and nutrients.
Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet will give you a leg (or arm or abs) up in building a stronger body and outperforming the competition.
In addition to omega-3’s, key anti-inflammatory foods include blueberries and tart cherries (tart cherry juice is a great shortcut); the spices turmeric and ginger (add a pinch or two to your smoothies); garlic; and antioxidant-rich greens like spinach and kale. For more, see my post “Five Simple Ingredients with Huge Health Benefits,” and my recipes for anti-inflammatory tonics in Woman’s World Magazine.