Here are five key foods with powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients. By incorporating them daily into client meal plans, I’ve helped hundreds of runners build strong, healthy bodies that can run fast.
- Tart Cherries – contain phytonutrients including anthocyanins and ellagic acid that studies repeatedly show help runners to recover faster and feel less sore, as well as perform better during the run. Use ½–1 cup tart cherry juice daily (or 2 Tbsp concentrate). While tart cherries are most potent, all berries contain various anti-inflammatory properties.
- Turmeric – contains over two dozen phytonutrients including curcumin, the strongest and most studied component shown to reduce oxidative damage sustained during exercise as well as assist in healing from inflammatory conditions. Use ¼ tsp powdered (or 1-cm piece of fresh) turmeric daily for preventative measures, double that to speed healing. While turmeric is the most anti-inflammatory spice, ginger and cinnamon are also highly useful.
- Leafy Greens – quite simply, leafy greens are by far the most nutrient-dense food available (that is, they contain the most vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients per calorie). Getting 4-6 cups of leafy greens daily will benefit any runner.
- Cacao – rich in flavonoids that studies show can help us run faster, improve brain health and strengthen the cardiovascular system. Plus, it’s a great source of iron and magnesium – two very important minerals for runners. Just 2 Tbsp cacao powder daily (or 30g raw dark chocolate) will do the trick.
- Matcha – contains EGCG’s, catechins unique to green tea known to powerfully reduce inflammation, boosting recovery, preventing inflammatory conditions and building immunity. One cup (½ tsp) of matcha daily is all you need to get these benefits.