“Exercise” Your Nutrition Sense to Avoid Post-Exercise Inflammation

Posted 10/19/2015 | By HealthCorps

If you’re committed to a sensible and challenging exercise program then the payoff is weight balance, better health, and a reduced risk of diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes. What you choose to eat can have a profound impact on exercise quality and intensity, and a recently recognized health issue, diet-driven inflammation.

Minimize joint and muscle pain by reducing inflammation from your diet.

Everyone benefits from a healthy diet that contains specific macronutrients. For the person who regularly exercises, the foods you choose to eat can either minimize or encourage joint and muscle pain and inflammation, and whether or not you recover from an injury in a timely fashion.

Macronutrients are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Most of us are consuming highly processed foods which are pro-inflammatory or encourage inflammation. A diet high in animal fats, animal proteins and high sugar carbohydrates (foods and drinks) drives inflammation. Your goal should be to consume mostly unrefined fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, healthy fats and low fat or fat free dairy products for an anti-inflammatory diet. At the same time, you don’t want to cut out entire food groups, like carbohydrates, fats or proteins, which can result in nutrient gaps in your diet.

Avoid diet mistakes while training or on a workout plan.

Another mistake athletes make is assuming that because they are burning so many calories, with their training sessions and performances, they can eat pretty much anything they want. Decades ago it was common to see athletes eating fast food and drinking sugary soda on a regular basis. In recent years, the role of macronutrients and quality of food is now considered a cornerstone of an athletes training program. Personalized nutrition is also crucial, since different sports have different energy requirements. Tennis involves short spurts of intense sprints and matches can last for hours. A marathon runner needs extraordinary fuel to support the long training sessions and competitions. A sports nutritionist can help to devise a pre and post-workout meal plan specific to each sport.

Recent studies have also revealed the role that inflammation can play in female athletes, driving anemia. Anemia can affect the oxygen-carrying capacity of cells, and oxygen is crucial to performance. Moving forward, doctors will need to address anemia in the athlete by treating or preventing the inflammation that is possibly contributing to anemia in the female athlete. Of course, female athletes notoriously reduce their intake of meat-based protein, another driver of iron-deficiency anemia in women athletes. You can get iron from other food sources, and from supplements. It’s important that female athletes make sure they meet daily iron requirements from a variety of sources.

As a general rule, athletes of all levels should “exercise” good nutrition by consuming a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, starchy unprocessed vegetables like peas, corn and potatoes, whole grains, fish and plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, legumes and beans, foods with healthier fats like olive oil and vegetables oil, avocadoes and fish, and a couple of servings of calcium-rich foods like Greek yogurt and fortified milks daily.

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