To set the groundwork, first, let's talk about inflammation. What is it and why does it happen? Inflammation is your body's protective reaction, and the process of protecting itself from infection and injury. When inflammation occurs, it may be obvious or it can be silent and may be the reaction of the body to things such as stress, disease, injury, smoking, diet, and even exercise ... yes, I said exercise.
When looking at inflammation in response to training and/or exercise, in some cases, exercise may be helpful to reduce inflammation. In a study by Dimitrov, et al. (2016), it was found that a 20 minute session of moderate exercise may be enough to have anti-inflammatory effects; however, in a study by Cerqueira et al. (2019), intense, prolonged exercise or training had the opposite effect, increasing inflammation and the potential for illness.
Reducing and managing inflammation around long, intense training that we often see in competitive athletes as well as everyday warriors, is present in recovery strategies that generally include (not limited to) regular deloads, sleep, massage, active recovery, and hydrotherapy; then of course, there's nutrition. Watzi (2013) found that the fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat "is inversely associated with the risk of inflammation," specifically carotenoids and flavonoids present in fruits and vegetables. Specific plant foods that may be helpful in modulating the inflammation process that can occur from intense prolonged training and/or exercise include:
🌶Spices & Oil: turmeric & ginger (dry and fresh), Olive Oil
🥬Dark Leafy Greens: kale, collards, spinach
🌰Nuts/Seeds: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts
🍊Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, oranges, & cherries
🍅The other fruit: tomatoes
🥜Beans: garbanzo, black, kidney
These inflammation fighting foods should not only be considered important and beneficial for recovery in the diets of athletes and those who enjoy the process of more intense workouts, but for everyone who strives for/wants a healthier diet that includes nutrient dense fruits and vegetables important for overall health.