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Anti Inflammatory Vegan Diet. Is It True?

Does A Vegan Diet Reduce Inflammation In Runners?

Okay, before we get into eating an anti-inflammatory vegan diet to see if it reduces inflammation for runners, I want to really make some real things clear from a personal point of view.

I have been a Non-meat-eating runner for about seven years now. I know diet has become a bit of an issue for many people, especially on the internet.

So though I’m using the term vegan in the title, but I prefer to use the term plant-based when I’m writing about a guide that can help reduce inflammation in runners.

The reason for this is by saying plant-based, I’m basically talking about a diet that can help from a performance basis. And I’m not talking from the point of view of animal cruelty or other moral issues.

Now while I don’t think these issues aren’t important. I think for the basis of this article. And this website. I’m more looking at diet as a way to improve performance. And this is really the core of this whole article is…

Would eating a vegan diet or plant-based diet help reduce inflammation and increase recovery and decrease recovery times.

What’s An Anti-Inflammatory Vegan Diet.

Anti Inflammatory Vegan Diet

So you might be thinking, What is an anti-inflammatory vegan diet?

Well its…

It’s a diet that consists of no animal sources and instead uses plants, nuts and legumes as food sources to assist and control the body’s inflammation.

However first and foremost, you really have to understand what inflammation is in the first place. And inflammation is your body’s response to injury or stress. And this is when blood vessels around an area in your body start to expand blood flow to the area.

And antioxidants are sent to the affected area to stop bacteria build up and ultimately repair any damage that may have been caused.

You can understand that running, a lot of inflammation will happen. It’s a high impact sport. So inflammation will occur. And in some aspects, you need inflammation to adapt and grow.

The problem is that you can get too much inflammation. And if you do that, your recovery from running can take longer; you can get more aches and pains and generally not feel as good when you run.

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Inflammation Impacts More Than Just Running.

Of course, chronic inflammation has far wider-reaching consequences than recovery from running, cardiovascular problems, rheumatoid arthritis to name but a few.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that utilising a plant-based diet or vegan diet can help reduce inflammation. And I’m not here to make massive, massive claims here as the science tends to be rather contradictory as of writing this article.

However, when you look at certain reports, utilising more fruit and vegetables in your diet has the impact of reducing unwanted inflammation, which means, in turn, that you generally recover more quickly from your running.

It’s well worth considering that whatever your lifestyle and diet will either help or hinder your running recovery.

My Story How I Became A Plant-Based Runner.

I don’t want to get too deep in the woods here in respect of; I understand that some of you may be reading this, and you have certain reservations about not eating meat, or you may be thinking that I’m going to push you in some direction not to eat meat.

I’m not coming from that perspective at all. The best way to help you make the adjustments you need in your running diet would be to tell you perhaps my story quickly.

When I hit my very late 40s, I was moving ever so quickly towards my 50th birthday, and I started to realise that I was getting much more aches and pains than I once was. And my recovery from running wasn’t as quick as it once was, and my curiosity got the better of me, and I started looking at my diet.

My diet until then had always been based around a lot of convenience foods, and I never had to really concern myself with what I ate because weight gain had never been a problem. And because there’d be no outward signs of my diet causing me any problems. I just carried on eating what I liked and what I like generally was faster-based foods, Chocolate and doughnuts in the morning, believe it or not, as a morning treat with coffee. And generally, fast food in the evening, beer or pizza or something like that.

I’ve never really been that into food. Food has always been a fuel, but the extra aches and pains and slower recovery from running definitely got my attention.

Now I’d like to tell you that I changed over to being a plant-based runner overnight, but I didn’t really; it happened naturally.

I Started Looking At My Nutrition More Closely

I was starting to cook more real food, including fish, chicken meat of good quality. But as I started to look into my diet. Slowly but surely, fewer meat-based products were on my plate, and meat just seemed to disappear.

And one day, I wasn’t eating any meat anymore. What really surprised me over the coming months was how better I felt when running and my recovery from running.

And I think if there’s been one major benefit. At the age of 57, now seven years later from when I first began not eating meat. Then, in my mid-40s. It is how I’ve recovered from my running, yes I get tired, but I find my recoveries so much quicker.

So for me, the more processed my diet and the less fruit and vegetables I consumed and the older I got, the more sluggish I felt.

The main takeaway I can share is that of an ageing car. The older the car, the more important it is to top up with premium fuel because as you get older, the car will notice that lack of quality fuel.

Yes, quality fuel is always beneficial; however, as we get older, I believe it has more impact.

What is C-Reactive Protein And Why It Matters

So what is CRP levels, and why does it matter to you as a runner that wishes to recover more quickly?

Well, having C-reactive protein in your blood is a pretty big clue that inflammation is occurring within your body.

Of course, as a runner, you will not be aware of this or less you have these levels checked due to other health complications.

CRP levels are often indicated by inflammation of the heart’s arteries, which can increase the risk of a heart attack.

So what can you do to reduce CRP naturally?

Well, you can lose weight, quit smoking but guess what two huge contributors are?

Aerobic exercise and eating a healthy diet!

So as a runner, you are already contributing to lowering your inflammation, get your diet on point, and you can not only improve as a runner but be a more healthy individual too.

What Are The Worst Foods For Inflammation?

Refined Carbohydrates

Carbs have got a bit of a devil, kind of reputation in dieting circles. However, the fact is, carbs are essential to us. They are a key our energy source as a runner.

Carbs are fuel especially if you wish to run effectively. However, you’ve got a difference between traditional carbs, real foods high in fibre and processed carbs with most of the fibre taken out. What actually happens is this actually creates sugar spikes in your system,raising your glycemic index.

So, what type of foods would you be looking at as refined carbohydrates.

Well…

  • Sweets.
  • Bread.
  • Pasta.
  • Cereals.
  • Cookies.
  • Cakes.

Basically, pretty much anything that isn’t natural food.

Processed Meat.

Oh, here we go. He’s going to make us eat meat because he is plant-based.

Look, let me put it another way if you are going to eat meat, then eat the meat of a higher quality.

That means, as near straight from the animal, not injected with hormones or antibiotics. Because if you’re eating processed meat, it’s meat that’s been changed. It’s had things added to it.

So, common types of processed meat are…..

  1. Sausage,
  2. Bacon,
  3. Ham,
  4. Smoked meat
  5. Beef jerky.

So you start to see that much of the meat that we do eat isn’t really actually meat in the most literal sense.

So, in a way, it’s giving meat a bad reputation now before anybody that’s a vegan shouts at the screen…..

Remember I said right at the beginning of this, we weren’t going to look at the cruelty side of eating that many vegans hold as their main reason for not eating meat…

So, I’m looking at this purely from my health and foods perspective. Yes, I believe Iam healthier not eating meat. However, science isn’t 100% behind this yet.

However, one thing that is agreed if you do eat meat, it’s better be not processed if you want to avoid higher inflammation in your body.

So, if you are going to eat meat, and you want to limit your inflammation. Then make sure at least the meats you eat are of high quality, the meat you are from animals that have been grass-fed and have not been injected with hormones, and other stuff you will ingest indirectly when you eat the meat.

Artificial Trans Fats.

Trans fats are more than likely, one of the worst oils you can ingest if you want to avoid inflammation.

They are made by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats. Most, if not all my kinds of margarine have trans fats in them.

So why should you care about that?

Well, trans fats lower HDL, which’s often referred to as good cholesterol. And there’s been a lot of research that eating many artificial trans fats is linked with very high inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.

Just be aware that a lot of the sugary sweetened drinks that we all so much enjoy can also increase levels of inflammation; I know it sounds like I’m taking away all the fun stuff; we can’t always avoid inflammation as its part of life, so I think it’s worth quoting something my grandmother said….

A little bit of what you enjoy is fine.

Just. The problem is we don’t take pleasures in little bits; we tend to be creatures of habit. And if we have the potential for excess.

Consider this. In the UK, the fittest the Uk population ever was in the year of the rationing finished in 1952. after the Second World War.

The reason for this wasn’t because the UK population were massively disciplined it was that food was rationed and not easily accessible.

The problem we have these days is, we have food at our fingertips, weekly, anytime we want. And that’s the challenge.

So when you’re looking at things like sugary drinks, processed meat, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, it’s not a case of looking at them and making them into devil foods; just be aware of what they are.

And then counterbalance that diet with real foods being real quality meat, real greens, real fruits, nuts, legumes, whatever it is, to counterbalance the fact that you will have periods of not eating what you could call not real food.

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What To Eat On An Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

So, what should I eat, reduce my inflammation, have more energy and better recovery, and better health as a human being?

The point is that, as I’ve mentioned, inflammation is part of life. The real problem is how we’ve been coned by food manufacturers who want us to eat their food in large quantities regularly.

And to do that, they’ve created food that we love; however; it’s not always that healthy for us, so we need to know that and try and strike a balance.

So, anti-inflammatory foods and diets will be rich in real foods that have antioxidants in them and have healthy fats. So, you know, if you want to eat fish, oily fish, things like tuna and salmon are fantastic.

Blueberries And Cherries.

I’m a big fan of things like blueberries and strawberries and cherries that have tremendous antioxidant capacity,

Spinach And Kale.

Vegetables, including things like spinach. I love spinach and kale. Now, if you’re not a fan of those, you can make some great smoothies that will help you with that.

Nuts And Seeds.

Nuts and seeds, olive oil, these are all things that are great antioxidants and can be added to meals.

Green Teas.

Some green teas have proved to have great anti-inflammatory properties.

Tumeric.

Tumeric and ginger, yet again, I’ve proved to have great antioxidant properties.

So you can see that there is no one single food that’s going to be the saviour, except perhaps when somebody is trying to market said food to you, to sell it to you.

So it’s about encompassing all the things just into your regular diet.

What’s Winning The Plate War?

I call it plate wars. What is winning, your plate war? When you create a plate of food, what’s on it?

How much fruit throughout your day are you consuming?

How many legumes or nuts do you eat a day?

Or is most of the food on your plate processed? Are you snacking on processed food?

So what’s winning your plate war?

So hopefully, you can see sort of things that will help you introduce those fruits, and greens, and all the other foods I’ve mentioned to counteract some of the other foods that you will more than likely eat throughout a week that are more likely highly processed foods, after all everyone likes a treat.

Can A Plant-Based Diet Reduce Inflammation?

Research

A defined, plant-based diet has a favourable impact on Lp(a), inflammatory indicators, and other atherogenic lipoproteins and particles. Lp(a) concentration was previously thought to be only minimally altered by dietary interventions. In this protocol, however, a defined plant-based diet was shown to substantially reduce this biomarker. Further investigation is required to elucidate the specific mechanisms that contribute to the reductions in Lp(a) concentrations, which may include alterations in gene expression.

CLINICAL INVESTIGATIONSOpen AccessConsumption of a defined, plant-based diet reduces lipoprotein(a), inflammation, and other atherogenic lipoproteins and particles within 4 weeksRami S. Najjar Carolyn E. Moore Baxter D. Montgomery

Here I am at the risk of alienating everyone. But this is what I believe from the bottom of my heart. So you have to take it and see if it fits you.

I think as a man in his late 50s eating plant-based, pretty much all the time, except for the odd egg or dairy-based brownie, I have found eating this way has delivered me more energy and better recovery.

BUT…..

The science on if a plant-based diet is a solution to inflammation is slow at arriving and at its infancy as you can guess that the main companies who might make such research have significant revenues to lose if this is proved to be correct.

Also, I don’t think purely from a performance perspective that there is a requirement to go fully vegan, plant-based or vegetarian.

However, with the western diet being broadly what it is, one of the processed foods that are high in calories, low energy.

Consumption of real foods such as nuts, legumes, greens and fruits at an all-time low is really not much of a surprise that many people benefit when they move over to a plant-based diet.

However, when you look at the more inflammation-inducing foods listed above, it is worth noting that you could consume some of them and still be plant-based.

Plus you could eat more fruit, vegetables and real food and eat quality non processed meat.

Of course, people on either extreme of either eating vegan or carnivore will vehemently disagree. However, I am not here to sell a religion; I can help you keep fast and reduce recovery times.

Remember also not to become a purist around inflammation. Just living causes inflammation; it’s about keeping to low enough levels so that you can live your life when running and not at the very highest level of energy and wellness.

is runners high a myth

I am a 57-year-old runner that is determined to give ageing a good run for its money :)
Running has given so much, from running 10Ks, marathons, and ten marathons in 10 days.
In this blog, I want to help other runners get better and get the secondary benefits of running: more energy, improved mood and functional fitness.

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