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My Anti-Inflammation Game Plan

On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself jealous of a new runner. The improvement a novice athlete is capable of seeing in the first few months in a new sport has the potential to be enormous, and I’ve seen people go from not being able to run a full mile to beating me in a 5k a year later. That’s exciting stuff — for the newb, at least. Maybe a little less so for the seasoned athlete coming in a minute later. Ahem.
After running for years and years, I have to seriously dial in my training to see big improvements — just getting out there and putting in a few miles doesn’t cut it. I need speed work and hill workouts and strength training, and there has to be a big focus on recovery while I’m at it. It’s not easy. It’s worth it! But it makes me envious of the people who can whittle multiple minutes off their PR just by continuing to run a couple times a week.
Today, I’m finding myself in a similar position regarding my eating habits.

If you were the people I know in real life, they’d characterize me as a pretty darn healthy eater. Lots of veggies, no red meat, and I don’t have a huge sweet tooth. But I’ve been dealing with an assortment of injuries recently, all over my body, and they all have one thing in common: major (and chronic) inflammation.
So, I’ve made the decision to clean up my eats — yep, even more. If I were in the habit of eating fast food on the regular or downing steaks and fried chicken every week, this would be a much different undertaking, but as is … I won’t lie. It’s a bit daunting. But I feel that I’ve done what I can outside my body to facilitate healing and it’s not enough. I’m ready to give my all to healing from the inside out.
This anti-inflammatory diet gets a lot of press — and I know because I’ve been reading allll about it. Some versions are fairly extreme (think Tom Brady), while others basically just suggest eliminating junky processed foods to the best of one’s ability.
My goal is to land somewhere in the middle, paying attention to both what I need to steer clear of and what I need to add. Here’s my loose plan, which I plan to follow quite strictly for three to four months:

  • Avoid gluten, dairy, and any added sugar (which will, by necessity, cut out most of the processed foods I gravitate toward)
  • Eat more salmon, leafy greens, berries, chia seeds, flax seeds, broccoli and walnuts
  • Add ginger to everything I can
  • Get serious about supplements (turmeric curcumin, omega-3s, CBD oil)

It’s funny — much of this is super in line with what we do in the 10 in 4 Challenge (our weight-loss with self love program) already, so it’s not like it’s foreign. It’s just another step or so beyond my typical routine. But if it works, I know it’ll be worth every difficult choice I have to make, because while I think the saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” is a complete load of crap, I suspect that, “Nothing tastes as good as being pain-free and able to run, jump, and do the things I love to do,” holds some serious truth.
Do you avoid — or add — anything to your diet for your health? Got any tips for this anti-inflammatory business? —Kristen

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  1. Pam says:

    Thanks for sharing. Trying to eliminate bad foods.

  2. Lisa says:

    What, no cheese?

  3. Dee says:

    I struggle immensely with muscle soarness and inflammation. I basically eat the diet you described supplements and all. The two biggest things I’ve found help is taking a really high quality probiotic every day and drinking bcaa aminos every single day workout or no workout. Also started on an all natural electrolyte drink called nuun. I still deal with my share of pain from inflammation but these things have atleast helped enough that I can actually get through more than one work out a week now!

  4. Alley says:

    I really enjoyed your post! I found the tone quite humorous and really appreciate you sharing your personal experience. I completely agree with your points, I find that balance is key. Although I agree the avoidance of energy-dense processed foods is quite logical and an ideal place to start, however, I recommend incorporating Low Glycemic Index Foods to significantly improve post-meal inflammation, and aim to increase your consumption of unrefined carbohydrates. For instance, green leafy vegetables, grapefruit and cherries, combined with increased dietary antioxidants (that will simultaneously keep you sane) such as berries, dark chocolate, tea, pomegranates and red wine. In moderation, these foods have proven to reduce oxidant stress and inflammation in the body.

    Research suggests the anti-inflammatory diet is also associated with the Mediterranean Diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and healthy oils. I have discovered that beneficial anti-inflammatory foods include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts such as almonds, green tea, garlic and onions, and healthy fats such as avocados, will assist and benefit the reduction of chronic inflammation.

    In addition, 70% of our immune system cells are located in the gastrointestinal tract, (the immune system fights inflammation) thus it’s critical to maintain good gut bacteria/ health. Perhaps take probiotic supplements combined with omega 3 supplements daily. I also found worthy to note, one study conducted on a controlled group for three-four months consuming a mediterranean diet, supplemented with nuts such as almonds or olive oil, produced clinically significant reductions in systolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, and inflammatory biomarkers, compared to the low-fat diet high in quality lean protein. The results indicate that healthy fats are the key ingredient for reducing and minimising inflammation.

    I further recommend incorporating protein of high biological quality such as egg whites, fish, game meat (and other very lean red meats), skinless poultry breast meat, and whey protein as these have been proven to significantly reduce and minimise the destabilising effects of chronic inflammation. I hope this was helpful, take care!

  5. Marc says:

    Turmeric curcumin, omega-3s, CBD oil looks like a pretty strong mix for anti-inflammatory purpose ! I need to try one of these … Any idea where to find some ?

  6. I read a lot of blog posts!! This is great content work.

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