I’m sure like me you have found yourself a bit stiffer and more sore as a result of falls and life with horses – a hoof here and there, a heavy bale or feed bag and next thing you know you are bent double and cursing like a sailor! But us riders are notoriously bad at looking after ourselves. We leave it until the very last minute to get sorted and then grumble when our trained professional tells us that they should have seen us sooner! If it was our horse needing treatment well then I can guarantee that they would have got it instantly! So I want to take you through some easy to implement foods to help combat inflammation in our bodies. The knock on effect is that by including some of these in our diet we will feel better mentally and the benefits will show in our appearance.
- Fruits and Veggies – These really are natures superstars. Eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetable in your meals. They are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and not only will they help fight inflammation but they will boost your immune system. Try these: any berry, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, Avocados, peppers, Grapes and cherries.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Research suggests that following a Mediterranean diet and supplementing with extra virgin olive oil can significantly decrease inflammatory markers. The effect of oleocanthal, an antioxidant found in olive oil, has been compared to anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
- Walnuts, almonds, and many other nuts may help reduce inflammation and heart disease. Most nuts are high in “healthy” fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) as well as omega-3 fatty acids and fibre.
- Fish such as sardines, salmon, and tuna are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids and considered to be anti-inflammatory. One large study of middle-aged and elderly women found that those who consistently ate one or more servings of fish each week were 29% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, caused by joint tissue inflammation. If you don’t like the taste of fish, you can try taking fish oil supplements.
- Black beans, lentils, and other members of the legume family are high in fibre and rich in antioxidants that help decrease inflammation. They also are a good way to get protein in your diet without consuming red meats, which are associated with increased inflammation.
- Whole Grains: Swap refined grains for wholesome ones! Go for whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and oats. These fibre rich foods not only help to regulate digestion but also have anti inflammatory properties.
In addition to filling your diet with nutritious anti-inflammatory ingredients, it’s essential to limit your consumption of foods that can promote inflammation to support your overall health.
For example, a higher intake of some fast foods, frozen microwavable snack items, and processed meat products may be associated with higher blood levels of inflammatory markers
Foods like sugar-sweetened beverages and refined carbs may also promote inflammation. Remember these are often the go-to at equestrian events so be prepared.
Examples of foods that have been linked to increased levels of inflammation can include:
- Processed foods: chips and fast food (so common at equestrian events and shows)
- Refined carbs: white bread, white rice, crackers, and biscuits
- Fried foods: Chips, fried chicken, and mozzarella sticks
- Sugar-sweetened beverages: soda, sweet tea, and sports drinks
- Processed meats: bacon, ham, and hot dogs, burgers
Keep in mind that it’s okay to eat these foods occasionally. Just try to ensure that you follow a well-balanced diet that’s based on whole foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables. We cant be the rider we aspire to be if we don’t take care of ourselves.
This article is as a response to me trying to find ways to combat my aches and pains from decades of horsey life. They work for me but please do consult your doctor for more information. They are easy to implement changes so pick the food you like most and include it in some meals this week (small sustainable changes)
Riding is a partnership between horse and rider, one cant exist without the other, both are equally important.