Nutrition,  Recovery

7 anti-inflammatory foods for optimum wellness

Anti-inflammatory foods are those contain compounds that help the body fight inflammation. The following is a short-list of 7 anti-inflammatory foods and compounds that help the body heal, promote healthy bones and joints, and enhance recovery after workouts.

Collagen

Collagen protein is the main compound found in the connective tissue of mammals and makes up a third of all protein in the human body. When we are young our bodies naturally produce a consistent level of collagen but as we approach our mid-thirties, collagen production starts to decline.  This leads to yields saggy skin, weakening of cartilage in joints and the formation of lines and wrinkles.  Collagen production can also decline due to physical stress such as injury and over-training, poor diet, and chronic stress. 

Supplementing with collagen in our diets is an excellent way to slow down the aging process, prevent joint pain and ensure that our muscles that we work so hard for are strong and stay toned.  The best way to supplement collagen is to make your own bone broth.  A second best option is to add a high-quality collagen powder like this one to your smoothies, protein shakes and hot beverages. 

Here are my favorite products that contain a healthy dose of collagen: 

Grass-fed Beef Liver

Beef liver is one of the best sources of Vitamin A which is responsible for keeping bones, skin, and red blood cells healthy. It’s also a storage organ for other important micronutrients vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron.  These nutrients are not only important for wellbeing, but they also contribute to decreased inflammation and accelerated recovery.  I’ll be the first to admit that liver is an incredibly unappealing food.  Fortunately, there are a lot of great options to consume your desiccated beef liver in capsule form, such as these ones:  

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Thousands of scientific studies have been published on the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon tend to have highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues but fish in general provides a great source of these important compounds. Scientists have found that regular consumption of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids not only promotes a healthy circulatory system but these compounds also play a role in increased muscle strength and/or decreased fatigue.  

I’m personally a big fan of krill oil.  Since krill lives in cold water environments and is a smaller organism than fish, it has a higher concentration of Omega-3s in it’s tissue.  Here are my favorite brands: 

Tart Cherries

According to an article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, tart cherry juice appears to aid recovery of muscle function following strenuous exercise by increasing anti-oxidative capacity, reducing inflammation, and lipid peroxidation. The evidence they found supports the conclusion that tart cherry juice reduces oxidative stress and inflammation and leads to an increased the rate of recovery after exercise.  It also contains photochemicals that increase melatonin production and therefore enhances sleep time and quality. 

You can buy tart cherries in many different forms including powdered, juice, capsules, whole cherries and dried cherries.  My favorite way to consume it is to mix the juice with some gelatin and lemon-flavored electrolytes and make Tart Cherry Lemonade Jello. 

Aloe Vera

The aloe plant has been known to have incredibly powerful healing properties for centuries and has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for external use on damaged skin.  Aloe is also a common ingredient used by the cosmetic industry to help promote the growth of healthy skin cells and to resolve various skin issues. 

More recently, aloe vera has been used to treat a variety of sports injuries because it reduces inflammation of strained muscles and soothes burns and blisters.  This powerful healer penetrates the skin quickly and speeds up cell reproduction in order to reduce healing time.  

L-Leucine

L-Leucine is one of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and has a very complex role in numerous metabolic reactions.  In addition to acting as a building protein, it also acts as a fuel source in skeletal muscle cells, a foundation to make other proteins, and as a signaling protein. Leucine-rich foods include eggs, tuna, octopus, fresh parmesan cheese, fish, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and animal meat.

Turmeric

The popular Indian spice turmeric has long been studied for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  It’s been used in Ayurvedic and herbal medicine to help heal wounds, aid digestion, and maintain good health.  This spice contains the compound curcumin which has been found to have similar effects as some common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) but without the side effects.  Turmeric can be ingested to soothe internal inflammation or used as a topical agent applied directly to the source of pain.  

My favorite way to consume turmeric is in the form of a turmeric latte (turmeric + warm coconut cream + cinnamon+ monk fruit sweetener). 

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