The summer months are the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy sports and other summertime activities. But sports and activity-related injuries can happen at any age, so it’s best to be made aware of foods that can reduce inflammation, the leading cause of summertime injuries.
There are a number of anti-inflammatory foods that are out on the market that you can buy and add to your daily diet that can help reduce the number of injuries that may plague you over the summer. According to MSNBC.com, some of these include:
Omega-3 fatty acids- While other foods increase levels of inflammation in the body, omega-3s actually work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage. Some of the best foods for Omega -3 fatty acids include: salmon (wild, fresh or canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, omega-3 fortified eggs, ground flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed, and soybeans.
Extra virgin olive oil- Olive oil contains the “good” monounsaturated fat, which protects the body against inflammation because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols. Try using olive oil when cooking, instead of vegetable oil or butter. Don’t load it on; just substitute one for the other in equal or lesser amounts. For the highest antioxidant content, choose “extra virgin” olive oil.
Antioxidants- Inflammation produces free radicals, those cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins or natural body processes. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, selenium, carotenes, and bioflavonoids, protect the body from the effects of free radicals, and are a critical part of an anti-inflammation diet.
• Vitamin C- Some of the best foods include guava, peppers (yellow/red/green), oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
• Selenium- Some of the best foods include Brazil nuts, tuna (canned light in water), crab, oysters, tilapia, lean beef, cod, shrimp, wheat germ and whole grains
• Beta carotene- Some of the best foods include sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, sweet red pepper, apricots and spinach.
• Beta cryptoxanthin- Some of the best foods include winter squash, pumpkins, persimmons, papaya, tangerines, peppers (red chili and red bell), corn, oranges, apricots, carrots, nectarine, and watermelon.
• Quercetin- Some of the best foods include onions (red, yellow, white), kale, leek, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, black currants, elderberries, ligonberries, cocoa powder (unsweetened), apricot, apple with skin (*Red Delicious), and red/purple/black grapes.
• Anthocyanidins- Some of the best foods include blackberries, black currents, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, cherries, boysenberries, red/black/purple grapes, strawberries, plum, cranberries, rhubarb, red wine, red onion, and apples.
Vitamin D- Although we mostly think of vitamin D as important for bone strength, it is also critical for a number of other body functions, including joint health. Some of the best foods for Vitamin D include, wild salmon, mackerel (not king), sardines, herring, milk (skim, 1 percent, low-fat, skim plus), enriched soy milk, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
Spices- Certain spices, such as ginger and turmeric, seem to have anti-inflammatory effects. Among the most promising are ginger and turmeric.
All of these foods will help to reduce inflammation and help you better enjoy your sports and your summer, too.