All of our fitness progress happens outside of the gym when we’re recovering, not in the gym while we’re exercising. We don’t talk about recovery enough, especially considering it’s one of the most important elements of healthy exercise for everyone — runners, bodybuilders, swimmers, etc.
When we train, our bodies respond by creating inflammation around the wound. In this case, the “wound” is all of the tiny micro-tears in our muscles and tendons that happen when we work out. This is totally natural, but constant exercise can cause chronic inflammation. Combine this with other inflammatory factors, such as not sleeping enough or being under too much stress, and we have a chronic inflammation situation that increases our risks of heart disease, asthma and other illnesses. Excessive, chronic inflammation can also hamper exercise recovery.
Naturally soothe exercise-related inflammation and speed up your gym recovery time with these foods, supplements and health habits:
1. Stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water helps flush toxins and byproducts from exercise. Stick with non-inflammatory beverages like water or tea. Green tea specifically may help with workout-related inflammation. Avoid sugary drinks, which can also provoke inflammation.
2. Take fish oil supplements.
These beneficial fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling, especially because so much of the modern western diet is too high in omega-6 fats and this imbalance causes inflammation.
3. Change the types of oil you use in the kitchen.
Opt for extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil. Raw avocado oil is also beneficial. Limit or cut out grain- and vegetable-based oils, such as corn oil, which provoke an inflammatory response.
4. Eat more ginger and tumeric.
These two herbs don’t just add a layer of flavor to your favorite dishes. They also work similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For example, a substance known as curcumin in tumeric blocks inflammatory hormones.