An injury is your body telling you you’ve messed up in the past, and it’s now payback time.
What’s interesting is that this isn’t only limited to mistakes in your training that you may have made in the past.
A bad diet can also be a contributor for some of the nagging and more serious injuries you’ve suffered from.
What this piece aims to address are the different elements of a diet you need to consider to make it optimal for not only your body composition but your joint and muscle health too.
Inflammation acts as the body’s defence system by bringing an increased level of immune activity to an area affected, whether it be an injury or infection.
However, where it becomes problematic in the realm of injury is when inflammation is present in the body with no real purpose or function.
This is when tissue and joint damage occurs, and when people are in pain for reasons outside of solely their training and injury history.
In an ‘inflamed state’, it’s not only the risk of injury that increases but the recovery process too.
This ‘chronic’, ‘systemic’ or ‘low grade’ inflammation that can cause real and persistent problems for your body if it’s not dealt with.
What You Need To Know
One of the most important things you can learn is self-awareness of your body and the way it feels and responds to different stimuli.
To learn what foods may or may not be good for you, you need to be aware of how you feel in the hours after eating.
After each meal, you should feel satiated, energised and focused.
If you eat specific foods and become lethargic, and start presenting with symptoms such as a runny nose, itching or any gastrointestinal issues, chances are the food you’re eating is triggering an inflammatory response.
Learning this is foreign to many of our new clients, as they’ve been through years and years of bad eating without paying any attention to actual how it makes them feel.
In fact, the reason our clients feel so good when they start training with us at UP is that many of the trigger foods are generally removed, and they can finally function at the high level their bodies were designed for.
This is why starting with an elimination type ‘bootcamp diet’ can work so effectively.
It essentially strips your diet down to the basics and provides a platform for an individual to learn what works and what doesn’t work for their bodies.
What You Can Improve
At UP, we know that if we can keep inflammation low, we can achieve faster results with our clients while keeping them injury free. To do so, we address the following areas:
Fatty Acid Ratios
This sounds complicated – but it’s actually pretty straightforward. To keep inflammation in check you need to balance your fats – and specifically the balance between anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and pro-inflammatory omega-6.
While both types of fatty acids are essential for the body, the Western diet is heavily weighted towards eating foods containing omega-6 while not getting sufficient omega-3 – something which can increase inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can lead to a host of conditions including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and many forms of cancer.
Increasing omega-3 intake through fish oil, oily fish and grass-fed meats in favour of omega-6 fats found in things like corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, etc. should help manage your omega 3:6 ratio better.
With the fats you do eat, you’ll want to balance them between saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated to get the body benefits of each.
What you want to avoid especially are the hydrogenated and trans fats, which are found in many processed foods like margarine and cheap oils (like the ones listed above).
These fats come with a host of health issues, including poor blood lipid profiles, increased inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction.
To read more about fats, and the benefits intelligent fat consumption can have, click here.
Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake
The first change we make in any client’s diet is making it more nutrient dense. This means plenty of vegetables and some fruits.
The antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, enzymes, etc. that fruit and veg contain provide anti-inflammatory and healing benefits at the cellular level throughout the body.
At the micronutrient level, deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and copper, can all contribute to increased risk of injuries.
By staying on top of micronutrients, you’ll assist collagen formation, strengthen connective tissue and support protein synthesis.
Which is why getting plenty of quality fruit and vegetables in your diet is important.
It’s also why junk food should be limited, as poor quality food choices can often deplete micronutrient stores in the body.
Use of Herbs and Spices
If you want to know about the role ginger and turmeric can play in modulating inflammation, we explain it in depth here.
Both have been used in Eastern cultures to alleviate symptoms of muscle and joint pain.
To use them, add them to your cooking, or drink it as a herbal tea.
The benefits won’t be immediately obvious, but in the long run, it’ll help boost your immune system to better deal with inflammation.
If we’re looking to optimise our performance, body composition and recovery, everything we put into our mouth matters.
If you’re feeding your body with junk food, or foods that don’t agree with you, it won’t be too long before your body punishes you for it.
Some will know straight away, while others pay the price for it years later.
This is another reason why ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM) is so flawed. Ignoring the inflammatory effect and micronutrient content of food is so short-sighted that it’s no wonder many of the IIFYM proponents are young and metabolically healthy, for now…
If you want to keep your body healthy, start paying attention to your body’s feedback and nurture it with what it craves: real, wholesome foods. You’ll be leaner, stronger and pain-free!