The Veggie Edge for Athletes

By Marco Pagliarulo, Weird Veg Science columnist for Lifelines Vegan athletes assert that a plant-based diet gives them a leg up. Let’s explore the science behind this claim. Endurance exercise induces muscle damage and inflammation throughout the body [1].  Since this can impede tissue repair and the body’s recovery [2], minimizing inflammation is advantageous to the athlete. But what does this have to do with diet? Several human studies have investigated the relationships between dietary patterns and inflammation. Here’s what the body of  knowledge indicates: Meat-based diets and Western dietary patterns (characterized by high intakes of meat, sweets, and refined grains) are associated with chronic inflammation [3, 4]. Conversely, fruit- and vegetable -based diets are associated with decreased levels of  inflammation [3, 4]. High intakes of carotenoids and vitamin C (found mostly in plant-based foods) seem  to decrease inflammation [3]. The consumption of whole grains is also associated with decreased levels of  inflammation [3, 5]. One of the review papers even goes on to suggest that a diet high in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains may even protect the body against inflammation [3]. Aside from inducing inflammation, exercise may also induce oxidative stress [6] – an imbalance in the… Read More

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