Inflammation - the good and the bad

Understanding how to manage inflammation can help boost your health and supercharge your performance. Inflammation is a crucial part adapting to the stimulus of training....however there are two sides to the story!

There are two types of inflammation - acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation can be a response to exercise stress, an injury or infection. Physiological changes that occur include increased blood flow, accumulation of white blood cells, redness, heat, swelling and pain at the affected site. We need acute inflammation to promote the generation of new cells which leads to healing. With exercise stress this is how the body adapts to the stimulus and recovers.

Acute inflammation is crucial but it needs to be managed in the correct way.

Chronic inflammation is a long term physiological response to one or more factors. It is a failure of the body’s immune system to maintain a healthy homeostatic state. It occurs when there is repeated exposure to acute inflammation or it is poorly managed. Factors such as poor nutrition, environmental toxins, overtraining or infection can lead to chronic inflammation. If you do not address your nutrition and lifestyle then it could lead to the clinical symptoms of disease and poor performance.

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Chronic inflammation is something we want to minimise as much as possible! Luckily I have put some tips together to help guide you in managing inflammation.


EAT THE RAINBOW

Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, E, zinc and selenium which will reduce inflammation.

  • Vitamin A is found in eggs, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potato.
  • Vitamin C is found in broccoli, cauliflower, citrus fruit, tomatoes and berries.
  • Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, avocado and eggs.
  • Zinc is found in meat, nuts and seeds
  • Selenium is found in Brazil nuts and seafood
  • Pineapple and papaya contain enzymes  (bromelain and papain) that lower inflammation    

ENSURE YOU GET GOOD QUALITY SLEEP

Growth hormone levels are highest with good quality sleep. When we are sleep deprived, T cells (important for immunity) are lowered and cytokines (inflammatory cells) are raised. Bottom line......ENSURE YOU GET ENOUGH SLEEP.

USE LOTS OF SPICES

Certain spices aid in reducing inflammation in the body, as well as making your food taste better. Be generous with the ginger, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon.

CUT DOWN ON PROCESSED FOODS.

Steering clear of processed foods is a quick way to avoid many inflammatory agents. These include omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats and refined carbohydrates.

EAT FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. The highest levels are found in wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, eggs, walnuts and flax seed.

GET YOUR B - VITAMINS

B - Vitamins perform hundreds of different functions to help us produce energy, improve digestion and create anti-inflammatory substances from our food. Increase the amount of beans, vegetables, seafood and meat you eat.

EXERCISE - FIND A BALANCE

Exercise reduces inflammation, but it also increases it. And depending on the context, this increased inflammation due to exercise is either a good thing or a bad thing. Confused?!? It is all about balance.

Read this article for more info on the relationship between exercise and inflammation