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Are you eating the right foods if you exercise?


            People who exercise or perform any strenuous activities to the body esp. athletes can have a higher rate of muscle stress due to the demands of exercise.  All individuals who exercise place stress on the body whether from a strain or muscle wear and tear.  Athletes especially do so with the high demands of their sport and training.  Statistically, the incident of muscle strains/injury from sports range from 10-55% for individuals.  One study focusing on nutrition to off set inflammation with tendons and muscles found that individuals who consumed the following:  EPA, DHA, GLA, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin A, B6, C and E had a 99% pain and inflammation reductions compared 31% of people in the control group who did not.  There is significant research to suggest that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosa-hexaenoic acid (DHA) play a pivotal role as an anti-inflammatory.  As an increase of omega-3s goes up, cytokines (inflammatory of the body) decrease.  Consuming 3-6ozs of fatty fish weekly or walnuts, flaxseed, canol and soybean oils can help utilize these positive nutrients in the body. 

            Selenium has many positive effects but regarding muscles in the body it helps against oxidative (decrease oxygen transportation to the muscles) injury to the muscles.  Sources of selenium include: tuna, cod, turkey, eggs, garlic, oatmeal, whole grain breads.  Zinc helps by decreasing swelling and proper immune system efficiency.  Sources of zinc include: yogurt, lentils, beans, peas, milk, spinach and seafood’s.  Vitamin A helps with cellular growth tissues, bone repair, and immune functions.  Sources of Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos, spinach, and red bell peppers.  Vitamin B6 is vital for proper protein and red blood cell metabolism.  Sources of B6 include:  garbanzo beans, potatoes, seafood and avocados.  Vitamin C plays an important role in formation of collagen used for strength and flexibility in the body.  It helps repair tendons, ligaments and form strong bones.  Sources of Vitamin C include: citrus fruits, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli and strawberries.  Vitamin E has been shown to decrease the amount of oxidative stress (oxygen deficiency) that occurs from exercise.  Vitamin E sources include: wheat germ, sunflower oil, peanuts, almonds, spinach and broccoli. 

            Proper nutrition is a vital part of good exercise habits, as the recovery and repair of the body prepares itself for the next workout and optimizes getting the most benefits from the demands placed upon the body from the previous workout and future workouts.  Additionally, it helps lessen chances for injury and or the severity of muscle strains/ injuries.  So Dawn, remember what you put in your gas tank can go a long way or can go a short way.  Get 10 dollars worth out of a 1 dollar investment or get 50cents worth out of a 1 dollar investment.


By J.D. Reber





Wein D, Sieloff. Nutrients for recovery from muscle injury. NSCA performance training journal. 2008; 17-18.


J.D. Reber MS & BS Exercise Science and health promotion CSCS, NASM-CPT