I am not talking about a “diet” to help you fit into your skinny jeans, although it might. I am referring to a diet to improve your health and to make you a better athlete. A diet to help you heal from injuries more quickly and to maybe even aid in preventing them. Many people lose weight on this diet, but that is not the reason I’m focusing on it.
Inflammation (swelling, redness due to injury, irritation or infection) is the culprit of many conditions from weight gain to depression to heart disease to rheumatoid arthritis. It is also the cornerstone of many running injuries:
- Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a fibrous band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel bone to the toes.
- Achilles tendonitis is an irritation or inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the lower calf that attaches to the back of the heel.
- Iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS, is due to inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the leg.
- Tendonitis and muscle strains are products of inflammation.
Granted the above running injuries are typically caused by over training, over use, incorrect form, etc., they are made worse with inflammation, and continued inflammation may delay healing. A good SASA would try to reduce inflammation, right? Sure you can start popping NSAIDS (ibuprofen, etc.) like Jelly Bellys, but those can wreak havoc on your system and mask symptoms. I’m proposing another tactic.
But first, let’s talk inflammation. Inflammation is not a disease, it’s a condition. Sometimes you want your body to elicit an inflammatory response to fight bacterial infections and viruses. It becomes majorly problematic, however, when our bodies are out of balance and we have more inflammation than we should.
Due to lack of exercise, stress, environmental factors, menopause hormones and the foods we eat, we can develop too much inflammation. You can combat excessive inflammation by being active, not smoking and being at a healthy weight for your body type. However, one of the most proactive ways to battle it is with your diet.
After I got the laundry list of injuries from my MRI, I took action. I knew recovery would include form changes, physical therapy, rest and other approaches. But, I wanted to do more. Type A personality in the house!
One of my injuries is high hamstring tendinopathy, a degeneration of the hamstring tendons and related to inflammation. I naturally wanted to address the inflammation issue because it is something I might be able to impact.
Enter the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Many health experts support this diet as a means of preventing disease and being an overall healthy individual. Running Times ran a recent article called “Fight Inflammation with Food,” that gives runners ideas for how to reduce inflammation naturally.
The more I read about this diet, the more I realized:
- This diet could help to alleviate and maybe even prevent many conditions such as heart problems, cancer, and osteoporosis as I get older. I mean, I’m no spring chicken at 45.
- I am already eating many components of this diet, but with a bit more diligence I could be a true follower.
- This diet is not difficult. The foods are readily available and can be eaten in their most simplest of forms. It’s not expensive and does not require special potions and trips to the most exclusive health food stores in the nation.
There are several books and approaches to the Anti Inflammatory Diet (AID). Below seem to be some common themes (from HERE):
Super foods included in the anti inflammatory diet include, but are not limited to, all the stuff that makes you fart:
7 grain bread
Omega 3 rich eggs
Steel cut oats
Tuna (mercury free)
Check out Andrew Weil’s AID Food Pyramid (praise the Lord that wine is in there):
I have been adding more of these super foods to my diet.
Confessions and Impressions:
- My kids freak out when they see all the spinach I put in my smoothies. If you know your primary colors then you know green (spinach) + blue (blueberries) = shit color.
Click HERE for an anti inflammatory smoothie recipe.
I also add a few handfuls of spinach to mine.
- Over the first few days I felt like this diet should be called the “Anti Constipation Diet.” Hello many visits to the bathroom!
- I admit that my donut this morning had so many trans fats and refined sugars that Dr. Weil would shit a brick, but oh well.
- I did something blasphemous and actually threw away everything in my candy drawer beside my bed. Then I had a funeral services and spread the ashes over a case of spinach.
Regardless of whether I’m un-inflamed, I love that this diet makes sense and promotes healthy, clean eating. The foods on the list are packed with good stuff and eaten in the right amounts give me the optimal balance of carbs, proteins and fats. I’m all over it. Of course you can’t have one bowl of blueberries and be done. This has to be a long term commitment.
Do you follow any guidelines for how you eat? Do tell. I don’t follow a strict diet in any sense of the word. I just try to eat well, to cook from scratch and to eat foods in their most basic forms. I don’t do it all perfectly, but I do pretty well.
What have you added or eliminated certain foods from your diet? We don’t go out to eat a lot. We don’t eat a ton of meat. I don’t eat Crisco straight from the jar.
Have you ever heard of AID? I had heard of it before, but know a lot more about it now.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor (but if I were, my name would be Dr. Hugh G. Rection). I am also not a nutritionist . In fact, I know very little about most things. Don’t eat this way if you don’t want to, and for God’s sake, don’t do it before you ask your own doctor or nutritionist.