What to eat to reduce inflammation

As I mentioned in my last blog, I needed to take some time off from running due to my first running injury. Thankfully, it’s not too serious. The most likely cause is “extensor tendonitis,” which is essentially inflammation. Treatment involves the basic (and dreaded) rest and measures to reduce inflammation, such as icing. Being a nutrition geek, I was curious what I could eat to further fight the inflammation and get back to running.

I dare you to go to the google search engine and type in: “nutrition and inflammation.” There are TONS of articles. It’s completely overwhelming. Site after site I found had some “Dr.” claiming that a revolutionary “anti-inflammatory diet” or “15 magical foods” will rid your body of all inflammation. Unfortunately, a lot of the information that I came across was not from reputable sources or evidence-based.

Not giving up, I turned to some of my trustworthy sources for nutrition information. However, even the amount of research from these sources was overwhelming. It certainly is a wide and exciting nutrition field. Antioxidants, omega-3, monounsaturated fats and phytochemicals (and the list goes on) have all been shown to fight inflammation. Even Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects (checkout my past blog on vitamin D). On the flip side, there is also a ton of research on foods that increase inflammation. Because of the huge breadth of this topic, I decided to focus on just one area: omega-3 fatty acids!

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  1. ALA
  2. EPA
  3. DHA
walnut1
Add a handful of walnuts to your salad for some extra ALA! 

I’ll start with ALA, which is an essential fat. This means it must be consumed in the diet on a daily basis. Women should aim to consume 1.1 grams/day and men 1.6 grams/day. Some good food sources of ALA include:

  Amount: ALA content:
Flax oil 1 tsp. 2.4 grams
Ground Flaxseed 1 tbsp. 2.4 grams
Chia seeds 1 tbsp. 1.6 grams
Walnuts 14 Halves 2.5 grams
Canola oil 1 tbsp. 1.3 grams

salmonThe other two omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA. Our body can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but it does not do this very well. Therefore, it’s important to include EPA and DHA rich foods in our diet. Fish contains EPA and DHA. Health Canada recommends eating 150 grams of fish (2 servings) each week which would provide about 300-450 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Good sources of EPA and DHA include:

·      Char ·      Rainbow Trout
·      Herring ·      Salmon
·      Mackerel ·      Sardines

If you don’t eat fish, you should consider taking a daily omega-3 supplement containing EPA/DHA. However, care must be taken to select supplements that have been tested and purified of heavy metals such as mercury and PCBs. Klean and Nordic Naturals both have manufactured omega-3 supplements that have been NSF tested:

  • Klean: 400mg EPA& 200mg DHA per capsule
  • Nordic Naturals: 400mg EPA & 200mg DHA per capsule + 500IU vitamin D

Interestingly, getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is only half of the story for fighting inflammation. This is where omega-6 fatty acids come into the scene. However, I’m saving the topic of omega-6 fatty acids until next week, so stay tuned!

ground-flazI learned a lot about my own diet while researching for this blog. While I have been doing a good job of including two servings of fish per week in my diet, I was certainly lacking in the ALA department. I decided to buy ground flax seeds and have been adding 1 tbsp. to my oatmeal each morning. I am certainly not under the impression that this is going to magically make my extensor tendonitis disappear, but I hope that it will contribute to my overall health and wellbeing. Everyone’s diet has room for improvement!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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