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Plates Not Pills: Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Triathletes

By Marni Sumbal | March 01, 2016, 12:03 a.m. (ET)

There are many wonderful nutritional properties found in real food. Sadly, much of our society overlooks the power of food as medicine and in return, abuses anti-inflammatory meds to reduce pain, aches and niggles (and athletes are not immune to this statement).

Certainly, there are times when medications are necessary but with so many people following restrictive diets these days to “be healthy,” I do worry that many people are missing out on the amazing nutritional benefits of a varied, wholesome, real food diet.

pumpkin seedsTo get you started with an improved anti-inflammatory diet, consider adding the following food items, rich in antioxidants, to your diet:
-Cayenne pepper
-Sesame Seeds
-Omega-3 fatty acids — fatty fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax
-Whole grains
-Dark leafy greens
-Fermented food — kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt, miso, kombucha
-Vitamin C rich foods — strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, citrus fruits, peppers, mango, cherries

Although inflammation is a normal process, it is through a smart training plan and well-balanced diet that you can reduce the chance that your inflammation does not get out of control inside your body.

A more natural, less processed diet can do wonders for your health and well-being.

If you find yourself constantly reaching for anti-inflammatory medications every time you have a problem (ex. you feel sore, tight or inflamed), do your body a favor right now and be proactive with a more natural, anti-inflammatory diet.

Let your diet be your best source of medicine.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition LLC and holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology, is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and a nine-time IRONMAN finisher. She enjoys public speaking, writing, plant-strong cooking and traveling. She will be racing in her fourth IRONMAN World Championship this October with her husband, Karel. Learn more at

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.