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Cycling nutrition: foods to fight inflammation

If your joints are feeling a bit of wear and tear from all those miles you put in over the summer these foods can help…

Cyclist
11 Dec 2018

This article first appeared in Issue 50 of Cyclist magazine

Cycling is great for fitness, keeping your heart ticking over nicely, toning muscles and burning fat. It can, however, take its toll on tendons and ligaments – especially if you ride up lots of steep hills.

This is why post-ride stretches are vital, but did you know that some foods can also help?

Here are five of the best… 

Salmon

Endless studies with Omega-3 supplementation show that this healthy fat triggers a series of key reactions which lead to less joint inflammation, especially in those who suffer from arthritis.

Research shows that people taking daily fish-oil supplements can typically decrease their use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

And the good news is that fresh wild Salmon is a stellar source of Omega-3 fats. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, then walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia are all excellent sources of Omega 3, too. 

Turmeric

Adding this spice to your food not only adds a peppery flavour to meals but will help with joint pain and swelling, too.

Researchers got people suffering from osteoarthritic knee pain to take turmeric extract for six weeks and discovered that it helped minimise discomfort as much as taking 800mg of ibuprofen a day.

That’s because turmeric is rich in an antioxidant called curcumin that can decrease the number of inflammatory compounds in cartilage cells.

Add it to curries, stir-fries, and salad dressings for a splash of bright colour and as a favour to your joints. 

Oranges

A report published by the US National Library of Medicine found that subjects with osteoarthritic knee pain who’d taken a daily orange-peel extract for eight weeks reported a drop in knee pain and had lower levels of an inflammatory compound than a placebo group.

It reasoned that the nobiletin – a bioflavonoid found in citrus fruits –was the most likely reason.

Next time you eat an orange be sure not to discard the albedo layer (the white, papery skin that covers the orange flesh) and if you use an orange in a smoothy, chuck the skin in when you blend is to get maximum benefit from the bioflavonoid content.

It tastes unbelievably zingy, too.  

Kefir

This cultured is worth trying for the vast array of gut-friendly healthy bacteria it contains, including L. casei, which appears to do wonders for joint problems.

In one recent study, participants were given a daily dose of L. casei for two months. At the end of the study, they had lower levels of inflammatory markers and less joint stiffness than a placebo group.

Pour unsweetened kefir over your breakfast cereal for best results or add it to smoothies or protein shakes.

Chocolate

Yes, we did say chocolate. Although hoovering up a slab of Galaxy won’t do you much good. Instead, look for something that’s at least 70% cocoa.

Dark chocolate is rammed with antioxidants and flavonoids that have been proven to help reduce inflammation.

So treat yourself to something like Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate bar (89p for 35g).

It’s Fair Trade, too, so you’ll actually be doing others some good as well as yourself.

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