Can you tell Bones was one of my favorite TV shows? If you don’t understand, then never mind.
I N F L A M M A T I O N. It seems to have worked its way into the athletes four-letter word category (despite its twelve-letter length). Coming out of an injury, inflammation has been on my mind. I’ve always been skeptical of all the health and wellness information out there, and it’s one of those areas in my life where I won’t jump on the band wagon just because there’s research and “facts” to back up whatever it is someone is telling me. Mainly, it’s because humans are so diversified and continue to diversify even more as time goes on, but also because one could find research to back up whatever they want these days.
You’ve at least heard by now that inflammation is at the root of almost all diseases, and most people won’t argue that. I however, am not most people. Let’s back up to simply defining what inflammation is – the body’s natural response to fight off infection or heal a tissue trauma. Because I’m mainly talking about sports and athletic health, let’s focus on the latter. Inflammation increases blood flow to the traumatized area(s) to bring in more nutrients from the food you ate to help heal the damaged area. So when I’m injured, why would I want to stop this process?
Ice, ice, baby. I hate the cold, I always have, but that’s not why I stay away from icing aches, immersing in ice baths, or take part in the latest cryotherapy chamber trend. After intense exercise, I jump into a hot bath to relax fatigued muscles and yes, increase inflammation because I’m also making sure I’m eating nutrients my body needs to heal, recover, and build. I want those nutrients to get where they need to go quickly. And that is why I don’t believe anti-inflammatory foods (another hot topic) are a real thing. Could foods labeled as such simply contain the nutrients necessary for healing and coincidentally reduce the need for the body’s inflammatory response?
GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES. BEETS. SALMON. WALNUTS. COCONUT OIL. BLUEBERRIES. TART CHERRY JUICE. PINEAPPLE. BROCCOLI. CELERY. BOK CHOY. CHIA SEEDS. TUMERIC. GINGER. FLAXSEEDS.
We do things and eat foods everyday that initiate an inflammation response – even the quality of the air we breathe and the lack of sleep we get. We counteract all these daily stressors by eating good food. Chronic inflammation and disease occur when the body consistently doesn’t get the nutrients it needs.
I’m only offering you my thoughts on the matter. Continue to do what you think is best, and what seems to be working for you. My only plea is that you think twice before you follow any health and fitness advice, even if it’s mainstream.
NOTE: There are emergency circumstances where inflammation really is bad for your long term health (i.e. spreading a localized infection, swelling cutting off circulation to another body part, etc.). Also, I would say that sometimes taking NSAIDs or painkillers would put your body through less stress in the long run than letting it suffer through pain. It’s an individual threshold matter.