The word inflammation is likely to stir-up thoughts of painful swollen joints and muscles experienced after an intense training session or a walk on the treadmill or post an injury. Inflammation is a normal response of the body in order to heal an injured area. Whether a pro-athlete or a weekend warrior, everybody naturally responds post-training with muscular inflammation. Unfortunately, when untreated, it becomes a chronic inflammation in the body and can lead to to serious problems (such as joint pain, poor recovery, weak cartilages, muscular wear & tear etc.)
The amount of inflammation in the body varies and is dependent on a number of factors like the activity level, sleep, stress and certain types of foods. What you have to realize is abusing these factors have a negative effect over a period of time. Early in life, pain threshold is usually high and we might easily neglect or are not even aware of any inflammation in the body. Also, our bodies do a fairly decent job of controlling the inflammation, at least for a while. Then one day you wake up and you’re in your 40s and something is just not right. That’s when the fear begins to set in, and you think to yourself, what did you do wrong? Sadly, all you did was ignored that little lingering pain for so long that the acute state is now a chronic condition.
Correcting this situation requires corrective lifestyle measures. Apart from various factors mentioned above (like sleep, exercise etc.), the food you eat plays a critical role when it comes to controlling inflammation. By adapting to a complete nutrition plan with an anti-inflammatory foods, you can actually decrease inflammation and ease the pain and discomfort associated with it.
The first step is to do the typical: start limiting processed foods, tobacco, alcohol, foods high in sugar, caffeine, aspartame and junk food. In some cases avoiding dairy foods also seems to help.
The next steps are:
Maintain a healthy weight. Get conscious with your food and begin exercise. Don’t wait for an unfortunate day when you have no choice but to give up everything you love to eat, just because now you ‘have’ to.
Exercise! A very common question is, what’s the best exercise to do? A very simple answer is, do something you like to do because that way you’ll never give up. Pick up a sport and enjoy doing it, for a sports person, pick up any workout that de-stresses you, pilates maybe.
Sleep well. 7 to 9 hours of sleep is a must for optimal health and muscular recovery. I call it the ‘beauty sleep’. A good night’s sleep is key to controlling inflammation (and sleeping is free! So why not make the most of this treatment).
Relax. Lower your stress levels. Find time for yourself once a day to focus on your breathing. Clear the clutter from your mind. However difficult the situation is, remember, stress is not the solution.
Include pain relieving foods. Like ginger, turmeric, berries, avocado and flaxseeds in your diet routine. It will not suppress effects of inflammation overnight, but eventually you will see the benefit.
It’s never too late for anything in life. Begin making a lifestyle change. Adapt to guidelines of sports nutrition. Think before you eat. Don’t wait for a compulsive situation. Start any form of exercise and if you are a sportsperson, then include some rehabilitating techniques.
Stay Pain-Free! Stay Healthy!