By Peggy Hall - April 03rd 2010

Did you know that certain foods can actually help improve your flexibility? It’s true! You see, different foods affect us in different ways. Some foods cause an inflammatory response in the body, which can cause stiffness in the joints, muscle pain, headaches, allergies, skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, sinus pain and congestion, sciatica, neck pain and a whole host of other ills.

What foods cause inflammation? Well, it’s what you might call the “good stuff”: caffeine, sugar, flour, alcohol, red meat, dairy products (yogurt is okay, because it contains beneficial enzymes and probiotics), deli meats, fried foods, foods high in sodium, and most packaged, processed foods, which are basically bankrupt when it comes to nutrition. That means staying away from frozen diet entrees, packaged salad dressing, canned soups, spice mixes that include salt, most nutrition/energy bars and diet products including sodas, which contain artificial ingredients and chemical additives. The body sees these overly sugary, salty, fatty, artificial foods as “invaders” and tries to buffer the blood and cells from these harmful substances by creating an inflammatory response. Think of a mosquito bite: when you scratch it, it swells and is even more painful. The swelling is inflammation, as the body tries to combat and neutralize the poison/irritant/invader. This is what happens inside your body when you eat irritating foods. Experts now know that high levels of chronic inflammation are at the root of nearly every disease and illness, from diabetes to arthritis to heart disease to cancer. The good news is that we can reduce inflammation – and the resulting stiffness, aches and pains that come along with it – by nourishing ourselves with healthy, natural wholesome foods that will help our body function at it’s designed to!

Foods for flexibility include chicken, fish, beans, whole grains (not wheat or corn, which are common irritants for most people), raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables. All green vegetables are considered very healing, so fill up on green beans, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, zucchini, and salad. Use lemon juice and olive oil for your dressing and stay away from any packaged food that has more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. Too much salt can cause swelling in the joints as you body holds onto fluid in an attempt to dilute the blood and tissues.

Drink up: To keep your joints well-lubricated and increase your flexibility, drink up to three liters (100 ounces) of pure water daily. The first few days you’ll be going to the bathroom a lot, as your body eliminates the excess built-up fluid, but in a matter of days, your body will self-regulate and you’ll feel better than ever with all that toxic fluid gone. Some people will lose up to 5 pounds of excess waste material in a matter of days! Stay well-hydrated when you’re surfing or doing any other physical activity. Be sure to drink at least a cup of water before you go surfing and another cup or more every hour during your surf session. If you’re a coffee drinker, cut back to one or two cups a day. Caffeine is very dehydrating and can lead to feelings of stiffness and achiness. Green tea or Yerba- Mate tea are good replacements. If you like iced tea, just remember that it’s also a diuretic, just like coffee, so add in another cup of water for every cup of coffee or tea you drink.

If you’d like more specific details on just what exactly constitutes a healthy, balanced, natural diet, check out High Energy Eating: Nutrition for Surfers, available as part of the Yoga for Surfers program at www.YogaforSurfers.com And visit www.PeggyHall.com to sign up for your free weekly wellness tips!

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