While exercise has huge health benefits, it can take it’s toll on the body and can result in injuries. Often it is due to overuse and too much training, or it could be the food you eat that is causing unexplained joint and muscle pain and injury.
Cells of the body (which in turn makes muscles, tendons and joints) are made from the food you eat. Good food = good quality body parts. But many athletes forget about nutrition and focus only on the exercise.
There are more and more products on the market which have additives and have been altered from their natural state. Our body was designed to eat real food, not man made, manipulated foods. People who eat a real food diet have more health and energy than those who choose a diet based on processed and non-essential additives. Having said that, sometimes even real food can cause problems.
The growing epidemic of autoimmunity which includes migraines, headaches, osteoporosis, joint pain and muscle pain has brought about more research on the topic. Gluten – which is found in wheat, barley and rye as well as any food made with these 3 grains – has been implicated in joint and muscle pain and injury.
Why has gluten become a problem? The change and hybridisation of the wheat grain as well as the processing, refinement and amount of wheat that is eaten can explain the recent increase in gluten related problems. Couple that with the growing number of people with gut issues due to excessive amounts of antibiotics prescribed and used in the domestic meat market, and the human race is primed for health issues that go beyond coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease, arthritis, and joint and muscle pain fall under the umbrella of ‘autoimmunity’. Autoimmunity is when the body does not recognise itself from an enemy and begins to attack itself.
Gluten is a protein made up of peptides; these peptides are sometimes very similar to the peptides that make up body parts such as muscle, bone, connective tissue and joints. When we consume wheat (containing gluten) every day and the body sees it as an enemy, the immune system will start attacking similar peptides. These peptides can be in any part of the body, including joints and muscles, or it could also be the thyroid, pancreas and other important organs. We know that this happens but we do not know why one person gets joint pain and another has thyroid problems.
The Paleo Diet and other caveman type diets have made a resurgence in the past few years. If you do have aches, pains or unexplained injuries, why not try a diet based on our hunter-gatherer ancestors? The best way to do this is to first eliminate most foods except for fresh foods, greens, some fruit, seeds and lean meat and then add food sources back into your diet one by one. Your body will tell you through pain very quickly if you are eating something that is not conducive to a healthier, fitter, more energetic you.
Some beneficial foods to add into your diet:
* Pineapple – pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which has numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and swelling and improving protein digestion to help fuel your gains. Some studies suggest that bromelain may decrease muscle soreness after intense exercise. Pineapple is also an excellent source of manganese, which is important for energy.
* Flaxseed – the nutrients found in flaxseed (especially alpha-linoleic acid, a precursor to omega-3 fatty acids), manganese, dietary fibre and magnesium – are more easily digested and absorbed from ground flaxseed. Omedga-3’s can be effective in decreasing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which can be induced by exercise.
* Green tea – Not only does antioxidant-rich green tea help increase our energy, metabolic processes and fat oxidation, but according to a study in the journal ‘Nutrition’, green tea’s polyphenols may also protect against the oxidative damage caused by resistance training. Green tea is also a vasodilator, so within 30 minutes of drinking green tea, your circulatory system will allow for easier and faster transport of amino acids for recovery.
Papaya – The enzyme papain in papaya aids in the digestion of protein and helps decrease inflammation.
Some small changes to your diet may make huge changes to your pain and symptoms. Give it a try today!