There's nothing quite like that chilly morning ride to really wake you up in the morning. In a last ditch attempt to hold onto that incredible summer training program, you're giving it some extra welly on the bike and in the gym.
As much as we love to pedal those miles, there is such a thing as over-training. Crazy, we know, but excessive exercise can lead to muscle wear, progression hinderance and injury.
Upping your training load, either with more intensity, or longer miles, can lead to pain and swelling - inflammation. Inflammation itself is an immune system response to attack - it's there to help us stay healthy, but sometimes it can be a little over zealous in reacting!
The symptoms will generally go away with RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Many people also opt to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen - but there are some foods that are known to contribute to recovery too. Here are some of the best...
Most varieties of fresh fish are packed with healthy fatty goodness. This is largely owing to the Omega 3 content. Humans used to consume Omega 3 and Omega 6 to a ratio of around 1:1, but in the modern day diet, the ratio is now more like 1:10, in favour of Omega 6.
Both Omegas are essential to a healthy body, but since Omega 6 is present in vegetable oils that are often used in processed, they tend to cause some inflammation. Consequently, Omega 3 oils reduce inflammation, so it makes sense to try and up the intake of fatty fish and other supplements, so put down those crisps!
Nuts are packed with antioxidants, which help your body fight off inflammation, and recover from any damage done. Tasty almonds are particularly good, thanks to their high fibre, calcium and vitamin E content, as are walnuts, which contain a type of Omega 3 fat which is a great puffy-muscle fighter.
Kale, Spinach, Broccoli
Seen that 'Kale' jumper around, but not sure you know your Kale from your Yale?
Kale (we'll stop saying it now!) and other leafy green vegetables, like Broccoli and Spinach, contain heaps of Vitamin E - which protects the body from cytokines - molecules which can contribute to - you guessed it - inflammation!
See - your mum was right about eating your greens - try this spinach and chocolate frozen yoghurt to get your dose alongside something yummy..
Beetroot is an athlete's super-food. It's been shown to reduce the amount of oxygen needed to sustain intense exercise, thanks to a high concentration of nitrates. Not only that, but the purple beauty also contains antioxidants which help reduce inflammation, as well!
Check out this beetroot drink you can make at home, and get it down you quick!
Turmeric is a tangy, orange spice that is often found in Indian cuisine. It's the 'curcumin' that gives it the orange tint that reduces inflammation, by 'turning off' the protein which triggers the immune system response that causes inflammation.
Putting this in all your food does mean you'll be eating a primarily orange diet, but it has been shown to have similar effects to over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, without the adverse effects on the stomach lining.
Studies have shown that people who eat more grains - such as oatmeal, brown rice, and barley, lowered their levels of 'CRP' - 'c-reactive protein'. High levels of CRP are a marker of inflammation.
Whole grains also keep you fuller for longer - a plus if you're after a steady delivery of carbs that will prevent sugar cravings later in the day. One of the best ways to get ways to get these into your diet is by starting the day off with some whole grain toast, and porridge.
As well as tasting amazing and looking beautiful, berries fight inflammation thanks to their high levels of antioxidants, and the 'anthocyains' that give them their colour.
These tasty little red fruits are just full of surprises. Not only do they have a whole host of body boosting benefits, but studies have shown that drinking highly concentrated juice made from tart cherries (not sweet cherries) can have a significant effect on pain and swelling associated with inflammation.
In fact, tart cherry juice drinkers were found to lose 22% less strength as a result of muscle damage than placebo drinkers - and it's believed in adequate doses and quality can be equally effective as medicines such as ibuprofen.
The creamy fruit is high in carotenoids - which fight inflammation. They also provide you with a healthy source of fat, which consumed in optimum quantities, can help encourage your body to use more fat as fuel.
Avocados also have a high quantity of Vitamin E which can help strengthen your hair and nails - bonus! If you're not so keen on eating avocado, then you can buy avocado cooking oil for a little flavour kick in your meals.
Chia Seeds and Flaxseed
Both chia seeds and flaxseeds contains plenty of those healthy Omega 3's, and you can sprinkle them on salads, porridge, or anything really, to add a lovely nutty flavour, a little texture, and some inflammation fighting power.
You could even try this Cherry-Chia energy gel, to prevent the damage whilst you're on the move...
A high number of the foods that are known to reduce inflammation are found in the Mediterranean diet - and copying the eating habits of our tanned, toned fellow Europeans has been shown to be effective in the battle against muscle soreness. Read more about the menu here...
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