6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods Athletes Should Be Eating!

 I often do grocery store tours with our local baseball, football, and XC athletes here in Nashville, Tennessee. This is also a great option to do virtually over FaceTime if you are in another state! Here are 6 of the top anti-inflammatory foods that we picked up. (Full thread on X)

  1. Egg bites with veggies! A pre-cooked option that contains protein, antioxidants, and key micronutrients!
  2. Whole Lactose-Free Kefir! Kefir is fermented (great for gut health). It offers > 60 strains of bacteria. Studies show these powerful microorganisms may help treat and prevent gastrointestinal disease in addition to muscle recovery!
    1. Dairy also offers leucine-rich protein, calcium, and vitamin D that your muscles and bones need to stay strong.
  3. Cherries are rich in antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory compounds known as polyphenols!
    1. These polyphenols have been shown to speed up recovery following resistance training, decrease muscle soreness, and lessen muscle breakdown!
      1. Vitamin C, hydrating, and fiber-rich as well!
  4. Blueberries and raspberries! The compounds in berries have been shown to relieve both muscle pain and weakness, inflammation, and cellular damage that occurs after hard exercise.
    1. Blueberries have been shown to help lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and improve memory, and cognitive function!
  5. Walnuts! One handful of walnuts contains 91% of the daily value of Omega-3 fatty acids.
    1. The omegas in walnuts can help with reducing inflammation and optimize recovery! Walnuts also contain magnesium which is critical for preventing muscle camping and supporting restful sleep!
  6. Pomegranate! We encourage our athletes and clients to add pom to smoothies, yogurt bowls, protein shakes, oats, and PB toast!
    1. Pomegranate intake has been shown to accelerate muscle recovery, reduce muscle damage, decrease soreness, and improve inflammatory markers post-training!

Here is a simple example of an anti-inflammatory meal for a busy high school or college student-athlete!

  • It is important to note that recovery is a 24-hour process. The body is always rebuilding and regenerating to maintain homeostasis. As an athlete or individual who wants to live a healthy lifestyle, it is best to limit inflammatory foods like cookies, cake, candy, fried foods, and alcohol.
  • Your performance plate should always contain lean protein, quality carbohydrates, fruit, veggies, healthy fat, and hydration.
          • Add Greek yogurt for extra protein, calcium, vitamin D, and calories to support muscle growth and enhance recovery!
          • Choose wild-caught salmon whenever possible as it contains up to 3 times less fat, and more vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, and b-12. If you do not like salmon you can opt for a lean protein like grilled chicken, turkey, flank steak, wild game, or halibut. 
  • What you put in your body directly influences your speed, power, strength, energy, blood sugar, body composition, disease, and injury risk so please take these tips and apply them. A colorful plate is a healthy plate! (Get a copy of Wendi’s Health and Performance Playbook HERE).
  • Female athletes can greatly benefit from more produce to optimize hormone health and help with their menstrual cycle! Learn more HERE
  • Use these tips because “nutrition can make a good athlete great or a great athlete good! What are you willing to do to out-compete your competition? Champions are built in the off-season.” –Wendi

Some additional resources on reducing inflammation & increasing recovery!

If you found this list helpful be sure to check out Wendi’s tips for reducing muscle soreness blog HERE.


References:

  • Albuquerque Pereira, M. F., Matias Albuini, F., & Gouveia Peluzio, M. D. C. (2023). Anti-inflammatory pathways of kefir in murine model: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews, nuad052. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuad052
  • Ammar, A., Turki, M., Chtourou, H., Hammouda, O., Trabelsi, K., Kallel, C., Abdelkarim, O., Hoekelmann, A., Bouaziz, M., Ayadi, F., Driss, T., & Souissi, N. (2016). Pomegranate Supplementation Accelerates Recovery of Muscle Damage and Soreness and Inflammatory Markers after a Weightlifting Training Session. PloS one, 11(10), e0160305.
  • Kelley, D. S., Adkins, Y., & Laugero, K. D. (2018). A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients10(3), 368. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10030368
  • Tan, B., Wang, Y., Zhang, X., & Sun, X. (2022). Recent Studies on Protective Effects of Walnuts against Neuroinflammation. Nutrients14(20), 4360. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14204360
  • Yavari, A., Javadi, M., Mirmiran, P., & Bahadoran, Z. (2015). Exercise-induced oxidative stress and dietary antioxidants. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine6(1), e24898. https://doi.org/10.5812/asjsm.24898

In good health, faith, and fitness

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual sports nutrition coaching, education, and presentations virtually in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Arizona, and Michigan. Our primary office is based in Nashville, Tennesse where we serve the greater Brentwood, Franklin, and Green Hills communities.  Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here to consult with Wendi for a team talk or QA session.