Advance with MUSC Health

Inflammation in the Adult Athlete: Diet or Injury?

Advance With MUSC Health
May 22, 2023
Person eating a processed dessert while surrounded by whole fruits and vegetables.

When we feel pain, we immediately look to find the cause and effect. We try to figure out what we did during our last workout or competition that is making this pain persist. Could there be something in our diet that contributes to the pain? 

Here, MUSC Health Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer Laren Siefken, ATC, MEd examines how what we eat can contribute to how we feel. 

What could be contributing to the pain you’re feeling? Let’s first look at what foods you’re consuming. 

The Problem with Processed Foods

The American diet has evolved into processed foods that are easily obtainable when on the go. These foods, unfortunately, can be the root cause of inflammation in the body. They can alter the gut bacteria in our digestive system, which can affect our immune system as well. This combination may trigger chronic inflammation. This can also affect your mood, cognitive ability, and digestion. 

Inflammation in Foods

Foods that fall into this category are sugary drinks (soda), fried foods, alcohol, refined carbohydrates (white bread, pastries), and red meat. This also includes foods that you do not prepare at home.

What to Do? Change Your Diet

Replace these foods with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and water. This can lead to overall weight loss and less chronic pain. This does require more planning with meals and snacks. Preparing your meals/snacks in advance will lessen that chance of resorting to processed foods. The time you take is a fair trade for having better control of your health and well-being. 

Adult athletes should continue to look for ways to increase strength and flexibility, but performance starts with what you choose to fuel your body with.

Laren Siefken comes to MUSC Sports Medicine after working the past 20 years in the Charleston area as an athletic trainer. Laren is certified by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. He is also certified by the American Heart Association as a Basic Life Support Instructor and can be reached at 843-876-0111.