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Best Foods for Inflammation and Healing after Injury

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veggiesAre you an athlete who has been sidelined in the past for a minor sports injury? Whether you are a weekend warrior or a more serious athlete, you can help to avoid being sidelined for too long but incorporating a few important nutrients into your diet!

While most doctors recommend RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), proper nutrition is often the missing link that can help strengthen your immune system, help you recover faster, and help you return to competition sooner. New research has come out suggesting that bromelain, an enzyme found in the stem and core fruit of the pineapple, may help to prevent you from being out longer than you thought.

A recent study in Phytotherapy Research found that bromelain fed rats developed 27% more tendon cells which indicated a better healing response compared to a control group. Researchers suggest this could be due to the fact that bromelain may help calm inflammation, support collagen production and act as a “clean up agent,” digesting dead cells to help healing more quickly.  

While it may seem simpler to pop a pill, supplements provide nutrients in isolation vs. the synergistic nutrition contained in whole fruits and vegetables. Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables as your primary source of nutrients whenever possible, and use supplements to fill in the gaps of what you can’t get in your diet.

There are also other super foods that can help cut down on the body’s recovery time by providing nutrient building blocks needed to repair stressed muscles. Here are some other super foods that help with inflammation:

Vitamin/Mineral needed for healing:                                             

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, walnuts, flax
  • Vitamin C: Pineapple, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, bell peppers
  • Anthocyanins: Blueberries, cherries, blackberries
  • Zinc: Nuts, meat sources, dairy
  • Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, spinach
  • 1

Tags: Healthy Eating , Sports Nutrition

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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