Diet and Inflammation

Given what we know about inflammation, the question that should come to mind is whether your diet can prevent or contribute to the minor inflammatory injuries that occur in muscles, joints, and tendons or can influence how your body reacts to acute inflammation from a sport injury. Although no one would expect good nutrition to prevent an ankle sprain, nutrition could potentially control the inflammatory response that occurs after the ankle is sprained, perhaps allowing injured tissues to heal faster or more completely. Nutrients that might be involved and deserve a nutrition check include the omega-3 fatty acids (or the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids), vitamin D, and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals found in plant foods and seasonings.

Nutrition Tips for Reducing Inflammation

  1.  Strive to improve the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in your diet by consuming at least two servings of foods that supply omega-3 fats every day and eliminating—as much as possible—your intake of omega-6-rich corn, safflower,sunflower, and cottonseed oils. Omega-3 rich foods include flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, canola oil, hemp oil, walnuts, and commercially available products with added flax.
  2.  Maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, either by spending time outside in the sunor through supplementation. Vitamin D supplementation of 2,000 IU per day might be worth trying if you experience bone, joint, or tendon problems,including swelling and stiffness.
  3.  Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs. When experiencing inflammation from a nagging sport injury, try green tea, ginger tea, pesto, pomegranate juice, or other foods naturally high in anti-inflammatory compounds.
  4.  Stay tuned for more research!

Herbs and Plant Products With Proposed Anti-Inflammatory Properties

  • Basil
  • Olive oil, which contains oleocanthal in newly pressed extra virgin versions
  • Willow bark, which contains salicin, the chemical in aspirin
  • Pomegranate fruit
  • Green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate)
  • Cat’s claw
  • Thunder god vine
  • Turmeric (curcumin)
  • Ginger 
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based drinks (Lyc-O-Mato)