As a 5 time marathon runner, I have always been told to load-up on carbohydrates and electrolytes before a race, and to have them afterwards to assist in muscle repair. This is certainly useful advice, and while reducing soreness is vital, reducing inflammation from exercise is often ignored. People consider inflammation bad, so the reasoning may go that exercise is bad for you if it causes inflammation. Exercise has an immense number of benefits so let’s discuss how to reduce inflammation to enhance our workouts.
Like soreness, there are nutritional needs that assist in reducing inflammation. Turmeric and ginger are two herbal remedies with anti-inflammatory properties. Because inflammation is a byproduct of exercise, turmeric and ginger can enhance athletic performance by reducing inflammation.
Turmeric has a compound called circumin that reduces inflammation. Circumin is used in many supplements and pain relieving creams for joint pain. Applied topically, circumin-based creams often give immediate relief. Orally, 1 gram per day of circumin is recommended for most people, and 3.6g grams of circumin is recommended per day for therapeutic effects, such as injuries and chronic conditions. A safe upper limit is 12 grams per day. The evidence is unclear whether athletes can tolerate a higher dosage, so it is best that athletes do not consume more than the upper limit. People have reported to notice improvements in 1-3 months of daily consumption.
Circumin’s role in reducing inflammation also lowers severity of many chronic diseases
· Heart disease
· Alzheimer’s disease
Ginger also reduces inflammation. Benefits of ginger include reducing severity of the following symptoms that inhibit the ability to exercise:
· Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
· Menstrual cramps
· Stomach Pain
· Respiratory problems
With all the scientific information, athletes may wonder how to include these anti-inflammatory herbs in the diet in a way that is simple. Chewing on ginger and turmeric certainly doesn’t sound appealing. And what about the strong taste? In terms of simplicity, the easiest thing to do is to get ginger and turmeric in powder form, which is easy to find at a grocery store. Another option is to get the roots themselves and put them in a blender with water, but then you have to strain the solids. An athlete can just stir a quarter teaspoon of each in a glass of water.
With all of the benefits of ginger, there are side effects if taken with certain medications. For example, ginger slows down blood-clotting, so if already taking medications for that, it can increase the effect.
Turmeric can also increase the effect of blood thinners. It can also increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if taken with other medications that lower blood sugar.
These side effects do not mean one should avoid turmeric and ginger. It just means to talk to your doctor before taking them if you have certain conditions and/or you are taking prescription drugs. It is also the reason why I recommend small doses like a quarter teaspoon of each with a glass of water but it will prove to be worth your while!
In addition to being an ACPM freelance writer, Bharat is also 5-time marathon runner who has worked in the fitness industry as a corrective exercise specialist certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. With a background in healthcare, Bharat is EKG-certified and EPIC-certified. Animal welfare is another passion of his.
Bertil Sjödin, Yiva Hellsten Westing, Fred S. Apple. Biochemical Mechanisms for Oxygen Free Radical Formation During Exercise. Sports Medicine. 1990;10(4).
Bharat B. Aggarwal, Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar. Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumen, the Anti-Inflammatory Agent, Against Neurodegenerative, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Metabolic, Autoimmune and Neoplastic Diseases. Int J Biochem Cell Biology. 2009;41(1).
Ginger. Web MD.
Migraine.com. Ginger for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction
University of Maryland Medical Center. Possible Interactions with: Turmeric.
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