Review: Efficacy of Natural Supplements and Foods in Decreasing Inflammation and Increasing Recovery of Damaged Muscles
Background: There is available literature examining the anti-inflammatory properties of foods and the utilization of these foods to reduce muscle damage through diet. However, the available research does not compare the outcomes of many different types of foods and their effects. This review examines various foods and their efficacy regarding anti-inflammatory properties and pain reduction, following exercise-induced muscle damage. These foods all show promising evidence in the reduction of muscle soreness and inflammation following exercise-induced muscle damage, suggesting their ability to act as a clinical modality. Methods: Literature was gathered using various key searches like “exercise induced muscle damage and anti-inflammatory foods”. Databases searched included EBSCO host, Google Scholar, and PubMed. Randomized controlled trials, double-blind studies, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews with full texts published between 2012 and 2022, were included. Results: Four tart cherry articles found decreased scores in delayed onset muscle soreness or VAS scores, which was assessing pain following exercise. They also saw decreased scores in cherry groups compared to placebos. Four tart cherries studies all saw significantly increased scores in muscular voluntary isometric contractions with cherry use compared to the placebos. Tart cherries also saw improved levels of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein in the intervention group. Another cherry study saw improvements in creatine kinase following exercise that induced muscle damage. Blueberry supplementation saw decreased pain level scores, increased maximal torque, and maximal torque average post-exercise-induced muscle damage. Creatine kinase levels were lower in blueberry groups while interleukin-6 showed increased levels in the blueberry groups. Pomegranate juice saw higher maximal weight scores and total weight lifted. Pomegranate groups also saw decreased delayed onset muscle soreness scores with blood biomarkers showing no significant change. Omega-3 studies saw improvements in at least one inflammation biomarker compared to placebo groups. One omega-3 study did not see improvements in physical markers but improved perceived muscle soreness while another omega-3 study saw decreased delayed onset muscle soreness scores. Conclusion: Tart cherries, pomegranate, blueberries, and omega-3 supplements all appear to be effective anti-inflammatory treatment options.