A SLIDE SHOW FROM WEBMD.COM Identifies 10 foods possessing anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate pain. For athletes, pain which does NOT arise from bone fracture or result from injuries requiring surgery is often the result of problems arising in muscles, connective tissues, or joints. Another WebMD.com article on common running injuries reveals that 7 of the 10 listed involve pain/inflammation of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints.
To preemptively prevent pain and inflammation, some athletes have tried pre-treating themselves with over-the-counter pharmaceutical remedies such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, because of significant side effects associated with short and long-term NSAID use, medical cautions against this practice dampened enthusiasm.
Thus natural alternatives, like those presented in this slideshow, may appeal to regular exercisers who hope to avoid pain associated with the minor tissue damage generated by everyday workouts.
The WebMD.com slideshow, reviewed by Melinda Ratinini DO, MS, includes some food/spice items that have traditionally been seen as having pain relieving potential, like ginger and the capsaicin in hot peppers. Other foods on have list have gained fame for their anti-inflammatory properties: blueberries, tart cherry juice , and turmeric. Other foods have the reputation of being heart-healthy, but mostly on the basis of their containing omega-3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory benefits: extra-virgin olive oil, salmon, and red wine.
The remaining two items were a surprise: pumpkin seeds and mint
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are on the list because they are high in the essential mineral, magnesium, but also qualify to be on it for having omega-3 fatty acid-related inflammation fighting capability.
Mint has long been a home-remedy for an upset stomach; limited medical research indicates that mint essential oil from the plant Mentha piperitahas anti-oxidant activitiy. An online search for the plant H. crenata mentioned on the slide page identified preliminary research in 2009 in which pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties were suggested.
All 10 foods fight inflammation.
Why does fighting inflammation associated with tissue injury help with pain relief? “When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues,“ another WebMD article explains. “This release of chemicals increases blood flow to the area of injury” which leads to classic signs of inflammation: redness, swelling, warmth, pain, and possibly a loss of function. Some chemicals released by the white blood cells directly irritate nerves to cause pain. In addition, the tissue pressure generated by swelling can also compress nearby sensitive nerve endings which “sends pain signals to the brain”.
Thus, decreasing some inflammation can help to limit pain. Experts are careful to caution that inflammation is an important body process when it comes to injury; without it there is no healing. It turns out that powerful pain relieving anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs will help at the time of acute athletic injury but may not do so if used long-term especially in conditions in which inflammation is not a significant contributor to pain.
Which is a further encouragement to find other ways to fight inflammation on a daily basis..
Perhaps long-term consumption of foods that fight day-to-day body inflammation may deliver a ‘safe’ amount of pain-dampening substances for the kind of day-to-day injury that the body experiences with physical training. Perhaps nutritional pain-fighting will prevent minor injuries from accumulating and ward off some of the common injuries reported by runners and other athletes.
A shot of tart cherry juice will not instantly take away the pain of an acute ankle strain. However, daily doses of this juice or regular intake of similar anti-inflammatory foods may keep a mild problem, like tendinitis, from reaching a severe stage before training corrections and other remedies can be applied.
Other serious disease processes, like cardiovascular disease and cancer, have been linked to chronic, low level, body-wide inflammation. The best reason to increase consumption of ‘pain-fighting’ foods may be to maintain general health, which may help us continue enjoying athletic participation over many years, if not completely alleviate the pain of injury.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
New! Search Box
Earned Runs is now searchable! Check it out...