The Anti-Inflammatory Foods All Runners Need

Source: The Anti-Inflammatory Foods All Runners Need

If inflammation woes are affecting your runs, it's time to clean up your diet and start incorporating anti-inflammatory foods. Doing so may make that painful run a thing of a past.

When thinking of what to cut out, registered dietitian, Sports Club/LA trainer, and lifestyle coach Julie Barrett says that processed foods are often the source of inflammation. "[Avoid foods] that come in a package or have ingredients that remind you of high school chemistry," Julie says. Beyond processed foods, clinical and holistic dietitian Esther Blum explains that when carbo-loading before a long run or race, be smart about your choices by avoiding anything that is known to cause stomach or joint pain. "Steer clear of the pro-inflammatory gluten products: wheat, semolina, barley, rye, oats, spelt, and kamut," she says.

Now that you know what not to eat, the good news is there are tons of delicious foods out there to support your running routine and alleviate inflammation. Here's what these experts suggest.

  • Omega-3-Rich Fish: High in omega-3-rich anti-inflammatory acids, wild fish like salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel are some of the best lean protein sources for runners dealing with pain from inflammation by aiding in repairing the body.
    Eat this: This easy balsamic-glazed salmon recipe from Eating Bird Food is a great place to get started if you're wary of cooking fish in your own kitchen.

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  • Kale (and Other Leafy Greens!): Both Julie and Esther agree that dark, green leafy vegetables are a must in any runner's diet. According to Esther, high-fiber, antioxidant-rich veggies "quench inflammatory fires" and are a natural source of other essentials minerals like zinc and iron.
    Eat this: Packed with healthy vitamins, fiber, and flavor, this sesame ginger kale salad will soon be one of your go-to lunch recipes. The addition of quinoa ups the protein in this salad to keep you satisfied for longer.

  • Sweet Potatoes: When taking inflammation-causing carb sources out of your diet, Esther says to look for nutrient-rich, gluten-free carbs like parsnips, quinoa, and sweet potatoes that offer the fuel your body needs.
    Eat this: These roasted spicy sweet potato wedges have the crispness of fries that you're craving with extra nutrient power. This baked recipe comes together with minimal prep, and the results are absolutely delicious.

  • Berries: High-fiber foods rich in antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, and fresh berries are one of the best sources of both these nutrients. Julie recommends that her clients fill up on black raspberries, blueberries, acai, and cranberries if they're dealing with inflammation troubles.
    Drink this: They're delicious on their own as a natural sweet treat, but blend berries into this postrun smoothie full of antioxidants and the protein your body needs to recover.