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Fight Inflammation

with these 7 superfoods

By Vicki Hackman

As an athlete, you're probably well acquainted with acute injury-related inflammation. In response to the trauma of a sprain or strain, or to invasion by viruses or bacteria, your body increases blood flow to the site. The result: redness, heat, swelling, and pain - all hallmarks of inflammation. When it's working properly, this natural immune response aids healing.

Chronic low-level inflammation, caused by persistent irritation, stress, and/or an overactive immune response, isn't so obvious. And that's the problem. Chronic inflammation can cause a host of serious diseases and conditions, including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and Alzheimer's disease.

A steady diet of refined sugars and trans fats, exposure to chemicals, sleep loss, and even overtraining have been linked to chronic inflammation. Food (more of the good stuff and much less of the bad) is the best way to fight it. To help your body fight chronic inflammation, be sure your daily diet is rich in these whole foods and herbs.

Omega-3-rich fish and nuts
The omega-3 fatty acids in Alaskan salmon, sardines, and herring are potent anti-inflammatories that also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fats are also found in walnuts and flax seed. To be sure your daily omega-3 intake is sufficient, supplement your diet with EndurOmega, Hammer Nutrition's high-quality fish oil product.

Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries contain anthocyanins. These compounds not only give these fruits their rich color, but also are thought to play a role in the fruits' ability to prevent inflammation.

Green tea contains antioxidant compounds known as catechins, which reduce inflammation. Numerous studies have shown that green tea may protect against heart disease, a variety of cancers, liver disease, and more.

Cherries, especially tart cherries, contain a unique combination of plant compounds shown to reduce inflammation. Impressive research with humans supports this fruit's ability to lessen post-exercise pain and inflammation, while accelerating recovery. In other studies, tart cherries (or juice) decreased the inflammation and pain of arthritis, reduced gout attacks, and lowered triglyceride levels.

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts, also quell inflammation. In a recent study of more than 1,000 women, researchers found that those who consumed 1 1/2 cups of cruciferous vegetables daily had significantly fewer inflammatory molecules in their bloodstream compared to those who ate 1 cup per day or 1/2 cup a day.

Whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, spelt, and steel-cut oats, digest slowly. This reduces spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to inflammation.

Spices, especially ginger, turmeric, and cayenne. For millennia, many cultures have used these spices for both cooking and healing. Modern scientists now are exploring the compounds that give these plants their powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits. Other anti-inflammatory spices include cinnamon, clove, garlic, and black pepper. Use them liberally in good health!


You probably already have some of the world's most potent anti-inflammatory agents in your kitchen cupboard. Check out their healing properties:

Ginger: Studies have shown that ginger can significantly reduce the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis. Ginger is available as powder or root.

Cayenne: The fruit of cayenne and other hot chili peppers contains capsaicin, now widely used in topical ointments and creams to ease muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis, sprains, and strains, as well as to treat the inflammation of psoriasis.

Turmeric: This bright orange-yellow spice (actually a root), used in Indian curries, contains dozens of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the extremely powerful curcumin. Hundreds of studies have supported this spice's ability to relieve a wide range of inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis. It may also help protect against cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and much more. Turmeric, as well as the anti-inflammatory herbs boswellia, devil's claw, and yucca root are primary ingredients of Hammer Nutrition's Tissue Rejuvenator.

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