Healing with food

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I believe food is a key part of ensuring both gains and recovery are maximised during training. I love reading about nutrition and am lucky enough to be part of a community of people who feel the same and share what they’ve found. A few months ago I had an injury and posted on the Bar-barian’s forums asking for advice. One of the long-time (and both epically strong and knowledgable) guys, Lou, posted a reply suggesting some foods to eat and supplements to take to speed recovery.

Last weekend I decided to stop ignoring that nagging pain in my elbow and shoulder and have a break from pushing and pulling for a bit (so far it’s been a week and I’m not going crazy at all) and as well as resting I am also trying to eat more foods that will aid in the healing process, many of which are the ones that Lou suggested:

  • Pineapple
    Contains bromelain – a protein-digesting enzyme that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Its strongest concentration is in pineapple stems and unripe pineapple fruits, but it’s also in ripened and processed pineapple.
  • Oily fish
    Omega-3 is an effective anti-inflammatory throughout the body. It is extremely successful in helping to reduce inflammation of connective tissues, including tendons. Salmon, cod fish, flaxseeds and walnuts contain measurable amounts of Omega-3.
  • Bones
    Specifically collagen, which helps repair connective tissues. So bony fish (the ones with bones so small that you can eat them, eg. canned sardines, anchovies etc.) but also stock made from animal bones.
  • Papaya
    Contains papain, which is another enzyme involved in breaking down protein fibres. It is also an antiseptic, digestive aid, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent
  • Almonds
    High in zinc to boost the immune system and fat for healing
  • Spinach
    Iron, zinc and other minerals
  • Garlic
    Contains allicin and anti-inflammatory which also improves macrophage function
  • Ginger
    Has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce pain and sorenes

So being the kind of gal that likes efficiency, I had a think about an optimum meal that could be created, and this is what I came up with. But first…

If you don’t like South East Asian food – stuff that is salty, sweet, sour and spicy at the same time, you’re not going to like this. Even if you do, it might sound kinda gross, but you’ll just have to trust me that it’s tasty as hell. I am actually going to make the same thing for my lunch today :)

Recipe: Recovery Salad


  • fresh pinapple
  • canned sardines with bones and skin
  • spinach
  • cucumber
  • red onion
  • chilli
  • fresh coriander (aka cilantro)
  • raw ginger
  • raw garlic
  • lime juice
  • Thai fish sauce (nam pla)

Put the pineapple, sardines, spinach, cucumber, finely chopped red onion (to taste – I used a quarter) and coriander in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix some nam pla, chilli (fresh or dried flakes), grated ginger (cut off a thumb sized piece, grate a quarter then eat the rest as you do your prep – it’s hot but you need a lot to get the effects), garlic (one clove) and lime juice. Pour the dressing into the big bowl, mix around with your hands, then serve. And wash your hands.

And in case you think I am just pulling this stuff out of my ass, here are two of the dishes that inspired it… Firstly an Indonesian pineapple salad, and secondly a Cambodian sour fish soup. Actually I made the soup as well – canned sardines, stock, lime leaves, tamarind pulp, vegetables, chilli… Yum!

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