Inflammation might not sound fun, but it’s very common. It’s your body’s way of protecting you.
The pain you feel from inflammation is actually your immune system’s response to toxins, trauma, chronic disease and physical stress to protect the body. It might not feel like protection, but is actually a response to danger. Inflammation doesn’t discriminate: your age, physical activity and fitness level doesn’t matter.
In this article, we will guide you through 6 tips for reducing inflammation and preventing muscle damage, including anti-inflammatory recipes. First, let’s learn more about the different types of inflammation and what type you may need to watch out for most.
Two Types of Inflammation that Occur with Exercise (One is normal, one is harmful)
When you exercise, you are putting stress on your body and tearing your muscles. After a training session, it is natural to feel sore and a little bit of inflammation. That means white blood cells in your bloodstream are rising to heal and recover the body. However, when the concentration of white blood cells is too high, it may cause longer recovery time and muscle damage.
1) Acute inflammation:
If you’ve ever exercised and had sore muscles after, you have experienced acute inflammation. This is a normal and short-term response to tissue injury which can last minutes or hours. It is part of the process of building stronger muscles. Exercising more reduces the acute inflammatory response (the more you do a type of exercise, the less you’ll get sore as easily).
2) Chronic inflammation:
Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is long term and something we want to avoid. Chronic inflammation damages your system, reduces the rate of recovery and limits training performance. It’s hard to feel its effect because it’s something we can’t visually see or feel.
So now what?
Well, don’t stop exercising, just be aware of how to do it safely. Nutrition and lifestyle play a big role in dealing with inflammation and healing your entire body.
7 Strategies to Prevent and Reduce Inflammation, Muscle Damage and Workout Injury
Having proper nutrition enhances your recovery and reduces risk of injury. If you want to improve your performance, follow these 6 tips to ensure you have your workout nutritional needs met.
1) Eat the rainbow!
Include all colours of vegetables and fruits wherever you can! Not only does it make your plate prettier, they’re also rich in phytonutrients specific to their colour. References to scientific research are at the bottom of the article.
2) Get fishy or nutty.
Prioritize sources of omega-3 in your diet! If you’re into seafood, salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, and mackerel are all great choices. If you’re more into plant-based foods, hemp seeds, walnuts and flax seeds are other natural sources of omega-3 in nature. Consider omega-3 supplements and ensure you have the recommended dietary intake for omega-3. For ages 19-50, women should have 1100 mg and men should have 1500 mg.
3) It’s spice time! ;)
Add anti-inflammatory spices to your diet! For example, turmeric, cayenne pepper and ginger all have anti-inflammatory effects on your body. We have recipes below as examples, but feel free to mix and match anti-inflammatory foods.
4) Whole grains = more gains
When you eliminate processed grains and include whole grains into your diet, you reduce the rate of inflammation in your body. The more you increase whole grain foods, the less likely you will experience inflammation. (That being said, don’t overtrain your body and make sure you have rest days!)
5) Lean into lean cuts
Your performance will improve with more lean protein sources like fish and chicken breast. Alternatively, plant based protein sources like beans, chickpeas and lentils will also do the trick! Try to avoid excess saturated fats or processed meats whenever you can.
6) Say no to artificial foods
More specifically, eliminating trans-fats and fried foods will lower your rate of inflammation. They might be yummy, but consuming too much of these foods are linked to more inflammation.
Here are two easy anti-inflammatory recipes you can try! :) If you’re looking to set better nutrition habits to help with your workout, try our 28 Day Fall Body Care Challenge. Our community of health-minded folks and nutrition coaches will check-in with you daily and provide motivation, support and feedback to get you on the right track!
Beet-Berry Anti Inflammatory Smoothie
1 cup baby kale
1/2 beet (peeled and chopped)
1/2 cup water
1/2 orange (peeled)
1/2 cup pineapple or mango (frozen)
1 cup mixed berries (frozen)
1 tsp fresh ginger (grated or chopped)
- Blend kale, beet, water, and orange in a blender.
- Puree until smooth.
- Add pineapple, berries, ginger, and avocado.
- Blend again.
Cauliflower soup with fennel and ginger
1 onion chopped
5 garlic cloves
½ head large cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 fennel bulb chopped
500 ml stock
2 tbsp lemon
1 knob ginger (peeled)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Place red onion, garlic cloves, cauliflower and the fennel on a baking tray and roast for 30-35 minutes until they turn slightly into golden brown .
- Remove from the oven and place in a blender.
- Add remaining ingredients and blend.
- Pour into a heavy saucepan and place on the stovetop.
- Cook for 20 minutes on medium heat.
- Add salt to taste.
- Higher dietary anthocyanin and flavonol intakes are associated with anti-inflammatory effects in a population of US adults
- Dietary Intakes of EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids among US Childbearing-Age and Pregnant Women: An Analysis of NHANES 2001–2014
- Scientific Opinion on the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
- Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence
- Curcumin: A Review of Its' Effects on Human Health
- Curcumin: An Anti-Inflammatory Molecule from a Curry Spice on the Path to Cancer Treatment
- Comparative anti-inflammatory properties of Capsaicin and ethyl-aAcetate extract of Capsicum frutescens linn [Solanaceae] in rats
- Acute effect of different concentrations of cayenne pepper cataplasm on sensory-motor functions and serum levels of inflammation-related biomarkers in healthy subjects
- Whole grain diet reduces systemic inflammation
- Whole and Refined Grain Intakes Are Related to Inflammatory Protein Concentrations in Human Plasma
- Dietary Protein and Changes in Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort
- Replacing Animal-Based Proteins with Plant-Based Proteins Changes the Composition of a Whole Nordic Diet—A Randomised Clinical Trial in Healthy Finnish Adults
- Trans Fatty Acids Induce Vascular Inflammation and Reduce Vascular Nitric Oxide Production in Endothelial Cells