The human body is an incredible thing. Not only is it capable of extremely intricate movement patterns and force production, it is also extremely proficient at healing itself.
Anyone who actively participates in any sort of physical activity knows that the occasional strain or sprain is bound to happen. Inflammation is your body’s first reaction to any type of injury. This inflammation needs to be reduced in order to let the healing process continue, and there are certain foods that you can eat with anti-inflammatory properties to help the healing process along:
Dark, leafy greens
Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation in the brain. Good sources include spinach, kale, and tea.
This tropical fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which can help treat muscle injuries like sprains and strains. Add pineapple to a smoothie or salad.
Orange carrots are rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals that help protect cells from free radicals, boost immunity, and help regulate inflammation. Other carotenoid-rich foods include apricots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.
Research has shown that cinnamon not only reduces inflammation but also fights bacteria, assists with blood sugar control, and enhances brain function. Sprinkle cinnamon over yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal, or add it to a smoothie.
Ginger contains several anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which may relieve joint pain, prevent free radical damage, and increase immunity. Steep a couple of slices of ginger in hot water for ginger tea.
Try using onions as a base for soups, sauces, and stir-fries. Similar foods with anti-inflammatory benefits include garlic, leeks, and chives.
One of the richest known sources of antioxidants, tart cherries are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Research suggests that tart cherries offer pain relief from gout and arthritis, reduce exercise-induced joint and muscle pain, and improve inflammatory markers. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice or combine dried tart cherries with nuts for a snack.
Walnuts are loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Top a salad with a handful of walnuts or eat raw walnuts as a snack.
A mustard-yellow spice from Asia, turmeric gets its coloring from a compound called curcumin. Researcher shows that curcumin can improve chronic pain by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body. Make a homemade curry with turmeric or mix it into other recipes once or twice a week.
In addition to these natural foods that you can eat, supplementing with fish oil will provide your body with Omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation. You can of course get these from fish itself if you desire, but the supplements make it easy to get the amount necessary for someone who is exercising regularly.
The next time you feel a little tweak or pull in one of your muscles or joints, make sure to get adequate rest, ice as necessary, and adjust your nutrition to get in some of these foods and help your body recover faster.
*If your pain is not reduced within a week, or continues to bother you, it may be a sign of something more serious, and we highly recommend you get it checked out by a trusted professional.