Inflammation or chronic pain is probably the number one reason my clients shy away from exercise. Most of them experience arthritis in their joints, chronic back pain or other inflammatory diseases such as fibromyalgia. I do my best to encourage them not to use this as an excuse, but use this as another reason to create a healthier version of themselves.
While some of their pain can be unbearable, most days we work on creating fitness goals to conquer! Even if it is just a 15 minute walk, it still counts as something. To their surprise, the more they move, the less pain they experience! Along with these exercise goals, I educate them on the top anti-inflammatory foods to help fight the free radicals.
Free radicals are groups of atoms in our bodies that damage our cells and DNA. This damage can lead to things like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Our nutrition plays a vital role in defending our bodies from these radicals with antioxidants. I’m sure you’ve heard this term many times, but do you actually know what they are?
Antioxidants are substances that prevent oxidation of potentially harmful elements, such as free radicals. These defensive players interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged (1). These micronutrients include vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Our bodies do not supply these nutrients, so we must consume them through foods. Here are some sources of these miracle workers:
Nuts – almonds/peanuts
Vegetable & fish oils
Citrus fruits & juices
The Mediterranean diet has been known to be a great anti-inflammatory diet since it consists of fish, vegetables and olive oil. Salmon is chalk full of omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA, which play key roles in suppressing inflammation and boosts anti-inflammatory compounds(2). While there is no specific “anti-inflammatory diet”, the foods that fall under the Mediterranean diet have pivotal benefits to help reduce inflammation.
While research still has a long way to go, having antioxidant rich foods have been shown to help with relieving inflammation and pain. They have a powerful effect on the body to fight off future disease and can even slow aging. So, please pass the berries!
1. Rice.edu. (2017). Antioxidants and Free radicals. [online] Available at: http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html [Accessed 13 Jul. 2017].
2. Williams, C, PHD, RD. How to Tame Inflammation. Cooking Light. August 2017.