December 09, 2009 from Runners WorldWhat does red mean to me? Red cheeks from running in the cold, holidays, power, and... inflammation. Not just the inflammation you can see -- i.e., swelling and redness -- but the invisible inflammation that can affect joints and recovery.
There are a lot of products out there to help with inflammation, but how about something you could include as part of your daily fluid intake? Something with carbohydrate, potassium, and a dose of anthocyanins -- nutrients that may block pain receptors by inhibiting enzymes that may contribute to inflammation?
So what is this liquid? Tart cherry juice, which you can find in grocery stores, health food stores, or specialty food stores. (If you want the anti-inflammatory benefits, you have to choose tart cherry juice -- not sweet.)
Now, some full disclosure: I am a consultant to the Cherry Marketing Institute. But the research on tart cherry juice out there is compelling.
A study done recently at Oregon Health and Sciences University followed 60 individuals, ages 18 to 50, who drank 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for seven days before, and the day of, a long-distance relay. Subjects reported significantly less muscle plain post-race compared to those who drank other beverages.
In addition, a study from the University of Michigan demonstrated that those who consume tart cherries have higher levels of anthocyanins in their plasma, up to 12 hours after consumption.
So what does this mean to you? Well, first of all, most of us could do a better job with fluid intake, and with getting enough fruit in our diets. And enjoying foods that help to reduce muscle soreness may be more appealing than taking a pill.
Consider being proactive about managing pain before you run. Because if you're in pain, you can't train!
Check out www.choosecherries.com (sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute) for research, recipes, and the Red Recovery Routine -- a tool to help you gauge fluid needs as well as tips for managing post-exercise pain.
LeslieLeslie J. Bonci, M.P.H., R.D, CSSD, LDN is a runner and registered dietitian with a master's degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, where she is now an adjunct assistant professor of nutrition. She is also a Board certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition. She has expertise in nutrition therapy for weight management, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and eating disorders.