Anti-inflammatory foods for speeding up recovery after training

2 MIN 18 October 2023

The sports diet is a fundamental ingredient for any athlete’s well-being and health. A healthy, balanced diet not only improves performance on the field but is also effective during the recovery phase after training. For instance, antiinflammatory foods are recommended after physical activity as they help to recover quicker and better, preventing injuries and muscle pain that appears during physical activity or during recovery. This is because anti-inflammatory elements, which fight inflammatory processes, protect our cells and strengthen the immune system.

The importance of Omega 3 in the sports diet

Omega 3, polyunsaturated fats, are some of the most important antiinflammatory foods: this is because they positively reduce the levels of inflammation which increase after prolonged and intense training. Assuring the correct amount of anti-inflammatory foods with Omega 3 –and reduce Omega 6, contained for example in industrial baked products– reduces the risk of stress-related injuries, such as tendon inflammations. The main sources of Omega 3 are oily fish, including anchovies, herrings, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sturgeon, trout and tuna, as well as vegetable sources such as walnuts, linseed and soya oil.

Anti-inflammatory foods in the sports diet: the role of polyphenols

Beetroots, cherries, pomegranates and cocoa are just some of the foods that contain good amounts of polyphenols: a family of natural substances that improve muscle pain after physical activity and make the body less susceptible to infections such as bronchitis. Polyphenols are a precious alley in the sports diet of any athlete: it is advisable to eat fresh or, otherwise, steamed or boiled foods, avoiding the high temperatures that break down the polyphenolic content of the food.

Some anti-inflammatory foods that must always be included in a sports diet

Tomatoes, green-leaf vegetables, like spinach or cabbage, nuts and fresh fruits are all anti-inflammatory foods that reduce not only inflammation but also the risk of developing chronic diseases. But beware: first of all, to reduce the general level of inflammation we have to follow a healthy, balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet which is rich in fruit, vegetables and whole wheat cereals. On the other hand, it is a good idea to limit pro-inflammatory foods: alcohol, processed meat, sweets, refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks.

Here are some antiinflammatory foods which must be included in the healthy, balanced diet of any athlete:

  • Olive oil: for sports nutrition we should choose unsaturated fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, instead of butter, and partially skimmed milk instead of full-cream milk.
  • Berries, with antioxidants that help to reduce the inflammatory markers as they support the body with their purifying, astringent and antioxidant actions.
  • Ginger is also precious in an athlete’s diet: its antiinflammatory function is assured by the content of antioxidants which protect against pro-inflammatory enzymes. It also makes a great infusion.
  • Pineapple: a food that not only burns fat but which, with its bromelain content, reboots the circulatory system by absorbing the liquids that accumulate following a trauma or inflammation. This is why it gives precious support for bruising, muscle and joint injuries.
  • Avocado: a versatile and simple fruit that we find more and more on the table, also thanks to its many benefits, including its antiinflammatory effect, assured by vitamin C. Avocado is an ideal food for anyone who suffers from, or wishes to prevent, arthritic problems.


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