Athletes are constantly pushing their bodies to their physical limits. Whether it’s track running, lifting weights, swimming, cycling or any other physical sport, it takes a toll on an athlete’s body, promoting muscle inflammation and related soreness. While there’s no way to completely avoid this biological reaction, athletes can fight body inflammation by following a few simple steps.
Take a Cool Shower or Bath
After engaging in physical activity, athletes should take a cool shower or bath. According to Mercola, exposure to cool water lowers the heart rate, increases blood circulation, reduces inflammation and even encourages faster recovery times. Exposure to hot water, however, has the opposite effect by promoting inflammation, so athletes should stick with cool after following a workout session.
Increase Intake of Omega-3s
Athletes can also fight body inflammation by increasing their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. A type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3s — ALA, EPA and DHA — are commonly found in fish, canola oil, linseed oil, nuts and seeds. Research has shown that people who consume omega-3s on a regular basis are less likely to develop heart disease than people who omit this nutrient from their diet. This is because omega-3s reduce inflammation in the body, which could otherwise weaken blood vessels and trigger a stroke or heart attack.
Reduce Intake of Omega-6s
Some people assume that all omega fatty acids are the same, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are two primary types of omega fats, omega-3s and omega 6s. While the former reduces inflammation in the body, the latter promotes it. Common sources of omega-6s include soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn syrup, safflower oil and vegetable oil. Rather than cooking with these oils, athletes should choose a healthier alternative like extra-virgin olive oil.
Eat More Berries
Fruit is an invaluable source of nutrients for athletes. Berries, however, are particularly beneficial because of their high concentration of antioxidants. Whether it’s strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or cranberries, berries contain free radical-fighting antioxidants that keep inflammation in check. Without antioxidants, free radicals will damage cellular tissue, causing the body’s immune system to respond with inflammation.
Body inflammation shouldn’t prevent athletes from engaging in their preferred sport or physical activity. By following these tips, athletes can reduce inflammation and promote better health.