Exercise is good for us — we all know this! But it can also cause problems with joint and muscle stiffness and even painful injuries. In fact, it’s these side effects that often prevent a lot of people getting outside and getting active on a regular basis. Why exercise, when pain is the result?
Well — here’s some help in the form of some healing nutrients: flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin C. You might be aware that flavonoids are potent antioxidants that can benefit you in a number of ways (like keeping your mind sharp). As for vitamin C, it too is an antioxidant that can fight infectious diseases. And omega-3s have been touted for their brain-protecting properties.
But here’s something you might not know: these three substances together could help make exercising less painful — at least according to researchers at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
Eating lots of flavonoids, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids is supposed to exert a big anti-inflammatory effect, the researchers say. To test this theory, they studied the effects of various combinations of these three ingredients during three days of cycling.
— One group of study participants was given 1,000 milligrams (mg) of quercetin (a flavonoid found in red wine), plus 1,000 mg vitamin C– The next group was given 1,000 mg quercetin, 1,000 mg vitamin C, 400 mg isoquercetin, 30 mg epigallocatechin gallate, and 400 mg omega-3 fatty acids– A third and final group acted as placebo
Thirty-nine athletes were recruited for the study and randomized to the three groups. Blood was collected at baseline, after two-week supplementation, immediately post-exercise, and 14 hours post-exercise.
The researchers found that blood levels of quercetin were significantly elevated in both supplement groups compared with placebo. The researchers concluded that combining flavonoids and antioxidants with omega-3 fatty acids is effective in reducing the immediate post-exercise increase in “F2-isoprostanes” (a marker of oxidative stress). When oxidative stress is shut down, there’s less of a chance for free radicals to damage cells. And, ultimately, that can translate into less pain for you when you exercise!