When an injury sidelines us, the natural reaction is to cut back on calories until it’s time to ride—and burn energy—again. But the healing process demands fuel, too. “It’s like fixing a house,” says Cynthia Sass, R.D., a sports dietitian. “A crack in the foundation requires raw materials to patch things back together, and in the body those raw materials come from what we eat.”
Proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants help heal wounds, relax stressed tendons, and mend fractured bones more quickly. So in addition to your doc’s advice to elevate and ice, you want to choose the right combinations of recovery foods to speed up the healing process and get back on your bike. Here’s where to aim your cart.
- Produce Section
- Meat Counter
- Dairy Department
- Cereal Aisle
- Seafood Section
- Supplement Aisle
- Recovery Recipe: Spanish Chicken with Saffron Rice
- Wound healing diet: Eat these foods for an accelerated recovery
- Maintain a healthy variety
- Choose power foods
- Drink plenty of fluids
- The best nutrients for muscle healing and repair
- How does our body repair soft tissue?
- How does our body repair bones?
- How can nutrients help?
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- What else can I do to support my muscles and joints?
- Which Foods Speed Up Recovery After Surgery?
- The 10 Best Foods to Eat After Surgery to Promote Healing
- Fats (nuts, oils, fish)
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Meat or Other Alternatives
- Brightly colored fruits
- Whole grains
- What Nutrients Do You Need After Surgery to Promote Healing?
- 13 Remarkable Nutrients for Recovery After Surgery
- Protein (Amino Acids)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Foods to Avoid After Surgery
- Tips for a Fast Recovery after Surgery
- Foods That Strengthen Your Tendons and Ligaments
- What are tendons?
- Food Sources
- Bell peppers, guava, kale, turnip greens, kiwi, broccoli, berries, oranges, grapefruit
- Clams, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, tofu, tempeh, lima beans, spinach, pineapple
- Vitamin B6
- Chickpeas, salmon, chicken, turkey, potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach, bananas
- Vitamin B12
- Clams, trout, salmon, beef, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soymilk
- Spinach, almonds, peanuts, cashews, soymilk, black beans, avocado
- Oysters, beef, lobster, pork chop, baked beans, chicken, cashews, chickpeas
- Finger Rehabilitation
- Finger-Fortifying Kale Salad
- Nutrition for tendons and ligaments
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- How to Heal with Food: Nutrition for Injury Recovery
- Six simple food and nutrition approaches for your injury recovery
- Download the Food & Recipes Cheat Sheet!
- Success! Here’s your Food & Recipes Cheat Sheet!
- How to Recover Faster: 27 of the Best Foods for Healing
- First: Make sure you’re eating enough
- What Foods Will Help Me Recover Faster?
- RunnersConnect Bonus
- Powerful Nutrition Tips for Injury Recovery
- Food and supplements to speed up healing
- Are you injured and need to heal quickly? Aid the healing process with these powerful tips on nutrition for injury recovery. Put the right eating and supplement strategies to work for you.
Buy: Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and kale for vitamin A; oranges, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli for vitamin C
Why: Vitamin A helps make white blood cells for fighting infection, “which is always a risk with injury,” Sass says. Vitamin C has been proven to help skin and flesh wounds heal faster and stronger, making it a valuable ally when caring for road rash. Vitamin C also helps repair connective tissues and cartilage by contributing to the formation of collagen, an important protein that builds scar tissue, blood vessels, and even new bone cells.
Noel HendricksonGetty Images
Buy: Lean turkey, sirloin, fish, and chicken
Why: Lean meats are packed with protein, a critical building block for producing new cells. In one study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers at the University of Ottawa identified a protein that acted like a bridge between damaged tissues, promoting repair. Because athletes require about 112 grams of protein per day (for a 175-pound male or female) for optimum healing, eating meat is an easy way to rocket toward this goal faster.
Keiko IwabuchiGetty Images
Buy: Eggs, milk, and yogurt
Why: All three are good sources of protein—milk and yogurt also contain calcium, which repairs bone and muscle. The vitamin D in dairy products improves calcium absorption and helps injured muscle and bone heal. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reported that boosting this nutrient’s levels in deficient patients produced earlier results.
Buy: Fortified cereal
Why: It contains zinc, a proven asset to the immune system and to healing wounds. Along with red meat, fortified cereals are the best sources (some deliver 100 percent of your recommended daily value). By itself, zinc doesn’t repair damaged tissue, but it assists the nutrients that do. “Just don’t overdo it,” Sass cautions, adding that too much—more than 40 grams a day for an adult—of this potent mineral lowers HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and actually suppresses your immune system. Cereal supplies moderate zinc doses as well as whole-grain carbohydrates, which fuel your body’s healing efforts and keep it from dipping into protein for energy. “Eating enough carbs ensures that your body puts all of its available protein toward repairs,” Sass explains.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Buy: Salmon, tuna, and trout
Why: In addition to an added protein bonus, fish is packed with omega-3s, fatty acids which quench the inflammation that slows recovery from tendinitis, bone fractures, and sprained ligaments.
Buy: Vitamin D, Calcium
Why: As we mention above, vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium you’re getting from your diet. This is an especially important combo if your injury is bone related. While there are some foods that contain vitamin D, they are few, and your body can produce it from exposure to the sun. If you’re spending most of your recovery time laid up on the couch, you could be deficient. And if you follow a dairy free diet, then you may also need an extra boost of calcium. Check with your doctor to see if you should add vitamin D and calcium supplements to your treatment. That said, more calcium doesn’t equal stronger bones—in fact, too much can lead to kidney stones so be sure to follow your medical professionals recommendation.
Recovery Recipe: Spanish Chicken with Saffron Rice
Put all those recovery foods to good use with this health-boosting recipe.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts*
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, divided
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 3 carrots, cut into half moons (bite-size pieces)
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (unsalted), with juice*
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth*
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1/4 cup chopped green olives
- 1 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) peas*
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped parsley for garnish
*Use organic when available
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil in a cast-iron skillet on high heat. Brown chicken on both sides (four minutes each side), then bake uncovered in the skillet for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, and set aside, covered. After 10 minutes, slice chicken into strips.
2. In a pot, add cumin, paprika and remaining sunflower oil. Sauté the onion, carrots and bell pepper for five minutes. Add garlic and rice and stir for one minute. Add tomatoes (with juice), chicken or vegetable broth, bay leaves, and saffron. Bring to a boil and add salt to taste. Stir, cover, and lower heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
3. Remove from heat, stir in sliced chicken, green olives, and peas. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish each plate with chopped parsley.
“Do I have to eat beets to heal my injury? They smell like dirt. And they dye my teeth red!”
“Is it true that eating a lot of protein is going to make my muscles stronger and protect my bones?”
“I hear curry helps control swelling. How much should I be taking?”
Questions like these often arise in Sports Nutrition Clinic when I have an athlete recovering from an injury. Young athletes and their families want to know the very best tips and tricks to speed up the healing process and return to their sport as soon as possible. Let’s begin with some definitions and background to better understand the role of nutrition in injury healing.
Inflammation is the body’s protective response to infection, injury and even intense physical activity. It is a critical part of the repair process which brings healthy nutrients and cells to the affected site. Acute, or short term inflammation, is a normal response to high-intensity exercise.
With an injury, the body’s short term response is redness, swelling, and pain brought on by the immune system. However, prolonged inflammation, can affect the whole body even if your injury is limited to one area.
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are a normal byproduct of cell breakdown. When you have an injury or if exercise intensely for a long period of time without proper recovery, cell turnover increases and can lead to high amounts of ROS within the body. Enter in our hero- antioxidants which work to protect the body from build of excess ROS!
Antioxidants break down ROS to less harmful byproducts and prevent further damage to cells. A high level of ROS and low amount of antioxidants within the body can lead to oxidative stress which puts young athletes at risk for fatigue, injury, muscle damage, and even chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis. These negative results are the opposite of what young athletes are working to achieve!
When an athlete is injured, they suddenly lose control of many aspects of their plan of care. Resting and following doctors’ orders can be very difficult for athletes who could once train at high levels without a challenge. The good news is that nutrition is a part of the injury treatment plan athletes are able to influence. Nutrition has a powerful and nourishing role in helping the body recover from an injury. As mentioned previously, antioxidants help the body prevent muscle damage and may aide in injury recovery. Some antioxidants are naturally found within the body, but can also be consumed through food.
Further evidence is needed to determine whether athletes, let alone injured athletes, are in need of higher amounts of antioxidants. Based on current evidence, increasing dietary antioxidants is preferred through food over supplements. Athletes are encouraged to eat a wide variety of the antioxidant rich foods shown below while also avoiding foods that can contribute to inflammation such as processed foods and those containing an excessive amount of saturated or trans-fat.
Source: Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Balancing Exercise Induced Inflammation
For more information regarding Sports Nutrition Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, or listen to our PediaCast.
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Wound healing diet: Eat these foods for an accelerated recovery
The doctor’s orders are frequent cleaning and dressing changes, adequate rest and checking in if you notice anything abnormal – but what about food? What you eat can impact the rate of recovery because good nutrition is necessary for proper healing.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, our bodies need more calories, protein, vitamins and sometimes zinc to promote healing and prevent infection. You can get a healthy boost from power foods with sufficient amounts of these necessary elements.
Follow these nutrition tips to accelerate wound healing:
Good nutrition facilitates wound healing.
Maintain a healthy variety
The goal of a wound healing diet is to eat a variety of foods that give you the calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals your body needs. Alberta Health Services recommended focusing on four food groups: fruits and vegetables, grains, milk and meat. The Cleveland Clinic advised the following minimum amounts of foods to maintain a healthy variety each day:
- Fruits and vegetables: 2 servings each
- Grains: 5 servings
- Milk: 3 servings
- Meats and beans: 5 servings
- Oils, fats and sugars: Limited servings
Remember that if you have diabetes, you’ll want to keep this variety up while still maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor or dietitian for a more personalized wound healing diet plan.
Choose power foods
Among the best foods for wound healing are proteins such as:
- Meat, poultry or fish
- Greek yogurt
- Soy nuts
- Soy protein products
According to the Cleveland Clinic and Alberta Health Services, power foods high in vitamin A and C include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Dark leafy greens
To mix up the dark leafy vegetables on your plate, Healthline suggested the following power greens:
- Bok choy
- Green beans
Foods high in zinc that can promote healing include:
- Fortified cereals
- Nuts and seeds
Fisher Titus Medical Center further advised avoiding the empty calories in processed foods, refined grains and sugary products. It’s also a good idea to refrain from soda and alcohol and focus instead on healthier fluids during your recovery.
Drink plenty of fluids
You’ll want to stay hydrated to promote the healthy skin that facilitates wound healing. While water is the superior liquid, milk, soup, tea, coffee and natural juices are also healthy options.
Along with following a healthy wound healing diet, talk to your doctor about smartPAC by Advanced Tissue for smart delivery of the wound care products your treatment requires. With good nutrition and proper dressing changes, you’ll be on the road to an accelerated recovery.
The best nutrients for muscle healing and repair
How does our body repair soft tissue?
Primarily the body repairs itself through a necessary inflammatory process and an intricate physiological recovery. Generally there are thought to be three stages involved in repairing soft tissue damage; inflammation, proliferation, and remodelling.1
Inflammation involves increased movement of inflammatory chemicals to the injured area to try to clear out the damaged and dead cells caused by injury. Inflammation is necessary in the healing process, without it injuries wouldn’t heal so don’t try to eliminate it entirely!
Excessive inflammation however, can cause damage and tissue destruction which is why it’s important to manage and keep track of your injury and know whether it is chronic or not. Devil’s Claw has been traditionally used to help relieve inflammation by gently breaking the inflammatory pathways without completely blocking them.
After the inflammation stage seems to subside the second stage of the repair process, proliferation, begins. This process is essentially the formation of scar tissue, which contracts and shortens as it matures thereby reducing the site of injury. This is why careful consideration should be given to injured areas as this scar tissue can leave you feeling tighter, and tenderer in the area than you were before.
Once the scar tissue has matured and developed into stronger collagen remodelling can occur. Remodelling is critical throughout the recovery process as it aims to keep as much mobility and flexibility in the injured area to try and maintain the length of the scar tissue.
How does our body repair bones?
Healing of our bones is similar to that of soft tissues although not the same. Healing of bones requires a four stage process; reactive phase inflammation, soft callus formation, hard callus formation, and bone remodelling.
Similar to soft tissue repair, healing of bones starts with reactive inflammation which causes the fractured bone and surrounding tissue area to swell.
After this inflammation, pain and swelling have decreased soft callus formation can begin. This stage causes the area to stiffen as a result of new bone formation.
Hard callus formation covers this soft callus and bridges the fracture and builds more strength in the weakened area.
Finally, bone remodelling occurs which fixes deformities that have arisen as a result of the injury. This stage can last up to several years and involves the formation of new cartilage which merges with woven bone to form lamellar bone. Over time this then becomes trabecular bone which is nearly as strong as the original bone.
How can nutrients help?
As we have seen repairing of bones and soft tissues is a very complex process that our bodies need a lot of energy, minerals and vitamins to be able to carry out effectively. And while your diet alone is not enough to heal these types of injury, it can certainly give a helping hand in speeding up the process. So what nutrients are best to include more of?
When it comes to repairing the body protein is a must! It is the foundation of our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood and is used to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones and other bodily chemicals.
So protein is essential when it comes to our muscle and joint health; it makes up the majority of our tendons and ligaments and is the building block for new collagen and elastin needed for repair.
Broken down, protein is made up of amino acids – the basic building blocks for any and all structures in our body. Unfortunately, like essential fatty acids, our body is unable to make certain amino acids on its own and therefore they have to be consumed through our diet.
The process of muscle repair depends on the availability of amino acids. During the proliferation stage of the recovery process amino acids are as building blocks to help create new muscle fibre. Amino acids can enhance protein synthesis within the muscles, particularly when they are consumed with carbohydrates.2
Magnesium acts as a nervous system and muscle relaxant, and is also responsible for helping us to fight fatigue and for regulating our mood. Magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical processes in the body including; nerve function, blood pressure regulation, bone health, hormonal interactions and the synthesis of proteins and fats.
Magnesium is also highly important for your muscles’ ability to contract and relax which makes it a great mineral to help relieve muscle cramps.
This is one important mineral! Although, sadly, it is one of the most common ones that we become deficient in despite it being widely available in our diet. Prolonged deficiency can lead to weaker bones because the body needs magnesium in order to use calcium which helps to keep bone strong.3
For more information about how you can use magnesium to help your muscles read my blog ‘Eat away your muscle pain with magnesium.’
• Dark chocolate
• Pumpkin seeds
When we think of vitamin C, we usually think of its super immune-boosting qualities, and while that’s certainly true vitamin C is also a key component of collagen production and ligament repair. This vitamin directly helps in the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body and helps the body to make collagen. It is also needed for the healing of wounds and repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.
Vitamin C is water-soluble meaning that our body can’t produce it on its own however, it is widely available in foods such as oranges and other fruits. Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation, speed up the recovery process, helps maintain cartilage and bone tissues and internally protects us from free radicals.4
Vitamin C also plays an important role in collagen synthesis as it helps to form bonds between strands of collagen fibre. If we have a vitamin C deficiency the collagen fibres formed are usually weaker meaning that we will be more prone to further injury.
Foods rich in vitamin C:
• Bell peppers
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help to fight inflammation and enhance collagen formation. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation such as cytokines and inflammatory eicosanoids. Research has shown a link between higher omega-3 intake and reduced inflammation.5
Other studies have indicated that omega-3 could also help to improve bone and joint health, that an increase in omega-3s can help improve bone strength by increasing the amount of calcium in bones.6
Your body can’t make these fatty acids on its own so we have to find them through our diet. They are probably the most important nutrient when it comes to inflammation modulation, and while we need a little inflammation, a lot can be quite damaging to our body.
Omega-3 rich foods:
• Wild rice
• Chia seeds
Every single tissue in our body contains zinc, so it is an important mineral when it comes to muscle healing and repair. Zinc helps to support the metabolism of proteins that your body needs to rebuild the injured area, helps to promote wound healing and reduces inflammation, stabilises protein structures and helps to regulate hormone levels. Zinc act as an antioxidant to help prevent the breakdown of cells due to free radicals.7
• Cocoa powder
What else can I do to support my muscles and joints?
Your diet is one of the most fundamental ways you can look after the health of your muscles and joints (why not check out my blog for foods that can help or hurt your joint pain?) although there are some other things you can do to help;
• Don’t over, or under, exercise
Exercise is important for maintaining muscle and joint mobility and flexibility but make sure you don’t over-do it! If you exercise regularly factor in some rest days to give your body time to adjust and recover.
• Sometimes rest is best!
If you do happen to experience a muscle or joint injury sometimes rest really is best. Applying an ice pack or going for a hot bath can really help to relieve pain, find out here if heat or ice is best for your injury.
• Herbs to the rescue!
Herbal remedies are a great natural alternative to loading up on pain medication as these can often have unpleasant side effects. For muscle and joint pain I would suggest our Atrosan Devil’s Claw tablets which aim to relieve muscle and joint pain.
As 2017 draws to a close, some of you are already looking towards a goal for the new year. Considering your first long-distance running race as a 2018 fitness challenge? For those of you who’ve not yet signed up to an event, Reading Half Marathon lands on March 18th, giving you two-and-a-half months to get your body race-ready.
But while most first-timers will want our beginner’s training plan, nutrition is very important for longer distance fare. Here are the 10 best ingredients to deliver not only plenty of protein, but also the nutrients required to process it, as well as anti-inflammatories to ease any lingering niggles you may have in your calves, quads, glutes and anywhere else.
1. Olive oil
Glug this testosterone-booster over your flood to increase muscle growth as nature intended.
Citrus is a key source of potassium, which combats cramps and spasms. Squeeze it into your water bottle.
Fatigue-causing free radicals are catnip to almonds’ antioxidants. Eat 70g daily without packing on fat.
(Related: still aching on Monday? Try these high-protein office snacks)
4. Broad Beans
These iron-rich legumes combat that tired, weak feeling and boost oxygen pumping around the body.
A nutrient powerhouse, it delivers vit C to build new tissue as well as bromelain to aid protein digestion.
6. Greek yoghurt
Plain yoghurt’s Hellenic shelfmate carries twice as much as protein. Feed your muscles with all you can eat.
(Related: the perfect protein packed yoghurt dessert)
7. Manuka honey
A spoonful of this natural healer is a pill-free painkiller for DOMS due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s primed for the job delivering 21g of protein per fillet, and added vit B without salmon’s heftier pricetag.
(Related: our biggest and best mackerel dish)
Add this raw ingredient to your salads: beta-carotene and vit E accelerate muscle recovery
The flesh contains manganese: a mineral that activates enzymes to help convert proteins into energy.
Which Foods Speed Up Recovery After Surgery?
Simple and Delicious Foods that Help You Recover Faster
Surgery is a common event as we age. In your lifetime, you will most likely go in for surgery or take care of someone recovering from surgery. There are over 48 million surgical procedures done every year and 72% of all surgeries are experienced by those over the age of 45.
It could be a fall, a car accident, a new health condition or a chronic health condition that leads to a trip to the operating room. Recovering from hip replacements, cataract surgery, fracture repair, cancer operations, biopsies, heart surgery and back operations are the most common.
Every type of surgery, even planned and elective surgeries, are a source of trauma to one’s body. After surgery, you or a loved one may experience a higher risk of:
- Decreased mobility
- Weight loss or gain
- Loss of energy and motivation
But don’t get scared! Your surgery is meant to improve your quality of life. There are a few key things you can do to have a smooth transition from the hospital to your home. One of the most important things to focus on while healing from surgery is nutrition.
The 10 Best Foods to Eat After Surgery to Promote Healing
There are 10 foods that will provide your body with the energy and nutrition it needs to fight off infections, accelerate healing, increase your strength and energy and maintain your nutrient stores. The best part is these top 10 foods are delicious! They are also much more enjoyable when shared with a friend or family member to help you stay engaged and happy during recovery.
Antioxidants are a powerhouse of nutrition that help the body repair damage. Perfect for after surgery!
Fruits with antioxidants include:
- Goji berries
Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Research shows that vitamin C is helpful in rebuilding collagen and soft tissue, meaning your incision site will heal quicker.
The vitamins and minerals you will find in vegetables are some of the most important nutrients in your healing diet.
Eat these vegetables as a snack or part of a meal:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Brussel sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
Including these veggies in your daily diet adds a healthy source of carbohydrates, which will help you battle the fatigue that is commonly felt after coming home from the hospital. Carbohydrates provide your brain with energy and stop muscle from breaking down. Your body will also get a boost of vitamin A and C. Another great benefit is that the fiber in a diet high in vegetables reduces constipation, which is a common side effect of pain medication and decreased mobility.
Fats (nuts, oils, fish)
Remember, healthy fat is your friend. Especially following surgery, healthy fat helps your body absorb all those yummy vitamins you are getting from your fruits and veggies. Fat is essential for strengthening your immune system and decreasing your chance of infection.
Healthy fats to include:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
Fats provide you with a long-lasting source of energy. Many types of fats and nuts are high in vitamin E, particularly almonds. Vitamin E also helps wounds heal faster and reduce the appearance of scars.
Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens may not be as popular as colorful berries and yummy fats, but they are vitally important! A hearty serving of green on your plate (or in your smoothie) gives you a dose of vitamin A, C, and E, as well as vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting.
Incorporate these vitamin-rich, dark leafy greens:
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
- Mustard greens
- Romaine lettuce
You will also be absorbing the B-complex vitamins, which help with energy levels. Don’t forget fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Greens are like a multivitamin!
Meat or Other Alternatives
As you age, it is important to eat adequate amounts of protein. Following surgery, your body needs a high amount of protein and iron. Your muscles have been potentially damaged, moved and manipulated during the surgical procedure and now needs to repair those muscles. Amino acids in the protein help repair muscle damage by regenerating tissue and speeding up wound healing. Iron will help you regain your energy levels more quickly as iron creates new blood cells.
Stock up on iron and protein through foods like:
- Beans and lentils
After surgery, you may find that you have difficulty digesting or even chewing tougher meats. Try meats that have been slow cooked in sauces or ground meats. Another excellent source of protein is our next powerhouse food.
Nature has provided us with an ideal healing food neatly packed in a shell. Eggs are a traditional first meal to serve to invalids and recovering individuals and with good reason.
One egg provides you with:
- 6 Grams of protein
- Vitamins A, E and K
- B complex vitamins (including B12)
- Folic acid
All those nutrients we have already discussed as being vital for a quick recovery. The best part is that eggs are easy to serve and prepare.
Probiotics are the happy, healthy bacteria that your body needs to digest food, provide mental balance and fight off all the germs and infections you are prone to after a hospital stay or procedure. Some of the most common forms of probiotic-rich foods are:
Surgery can be rough on your system. Anesthetics, antibiotics and painkillers upset the delicate balance in your gut leaving you with digestive upsets, constipation and nausea. A healthy dose of probiotics can help to regulate your system.
Brightly colored fruits
Who says that healing foods are boring? After surgery, it is even more important to eat all the colors of the rainbow. Pile a bowl full of the brightest colored fruits and veggies and get a good dose of vitamin A, C, carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants and the nutritious calories your body needs to bounce back.
Fiber is essential following surgery to avoid the discomfort of constipation. Fruits provide that fiber with a dose of color, vitamins and energy boosting carbs.
Ask your friends to bring by:
Not only are fruits a powerhouse of healing nutrition but they are also light on the stomach and ideal for small, regular portions.
Eating plenty of whole grains after surgery will provide your body with the carbohydrates your brain needs for energy and stops your muscles from breaking down. Whole grains also give you another dose of fiber. You are going to feel tired and worn out following your surgery and the right kind of carbs will bring your energy levels up.
Round your plate out with:
- Whole wheat or rye sourdough breads
- Steel cut oats
- Wild rice
The bulk of your vitamins and minerals will be coming from your healthy fats, veggies, fruit, and proteins. But carbohydrates are an important part of the healing puzzle.
The easiest and most overlooked thing we need after surgery is water. Don’t forget your body is made up of 55-65 percent water. Dehydration is common and maintaining adequate levels of hydration will help you recover quicker. Depending on the type of surgery you have and the medications you are on, your requirements for fluid may be higher than usual.
If drinking plain water is unappealing you can try:
- Flavoring your water with lime or lemon
- Drinking coconut water
- Eating high water content foods like soup
- Preparing a smoothie with extra fluid
- Drinking herbal teas (either hot or cold)
What Nutrients Do You Need After Surgery to Promote Healing?
Surgery drains your body’s reserves. By providing your body with these essential nutrients you may have an easier recovery. This list of nutrients covers many of the challenges that your body is facing while you heal. But every person’s needs are different. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to set up an eating plan that meets your specific needs.
13 Remarkable Nutrients for Recovery After Surgery
Each of these nutrients play an important role in helping you heal. Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get all these nutrients. The foods listed are suggestions that are high in each nutrient but there are many other sources.
Antioxidants help the body to protect and repair itself.
Top 3 foods: berries, grapes and spinach.
Calcium helps to build strong bones, as well as regulate nerve impulses, blood clotting and muscle strength.
Top 3 foods: kale, yogurt and almonds.
Carbohydrates provide energy for your muscles, brain and nerves. You’ll need this energy for healing.
Top 3 foods: whole grains, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Constipation is a common risk after surgery. This can be caused by a lack of activity and pain medication. Fiber is a necessary bulking agent that keeps your system moving.
Top 3 foods: raspberries, nuts and beans.
Most surgeries will involve an expected loss of blood. Iron is vital for the creation of new red blood cells.
Top 3 foods: garbanzo beans, spinach and cashews.
Magnesium provides a soothing, relaxing effect. Adequate amounts of magnesium can relieve sore muscles and promote better sleep quality.
Top 3 foods: nuts, seeds and avocado.
Potassium keeps your heart healthy, grows new cells and assists your muscles with their work.
Top 3 foods: squash, sweet potato and white beans.
Protein (Amino Acids)
The amino acids in protein help to rebuild the damaged tissue. Protein also speeds up how fast your incision will heal.
Top 3 foods: eggs, poultry and beans.
Vitamin A will help your body to build up new bone, tissue, mucus membrane or skin. This is especially important if you have had surgery on your bones.
Top 3 foods: carrots, sweet potatoes and apricots.
Vitamin B is needed to create red blood cells and keep your brain functioning.
Top 3 foods: meat, seafood and eggs.
Vitamin C provides the collagen protein that is responsible for repairing tendons, ligaments and healing both your incision and the repairs inside your body.
Top 3 foods: oranges, strawberries and bell peppers.
Vitamin E belongs to the antioxidant group. These help your body to make healthy red blood cells and use vitamin K.
Top 3 foods: sunflower seeds, swiss chard and asparagus.
Without vitamin K, your blood is not able to clot. Clotting is vital for wound healing after surgery.
Top 3 foods: brussels sprouts, broccoli and romaine lettuce.
Foods to Avoid After Surgery
It is just as important to look at which foods are slowing your body’s healing. Food can either be medicine or poison for your body. Although you might be desperately craving a sweet treat, remember that these foods can rob you of a quick healing time and increase your risk of infection.
- Added sugars. Food and drink with added sugar offer your taste buds a quick reward. But the added sugar is high in calories and gives your body no nutritional value. You may feel a short burst of energy and alertness but will quickly feel more drained and tired. Bacteria and viruses thrive on sugar, which is one more reason to avoid sugary foods after surgery. You want to keep your body strong since sugar will only weaken your body and strengthen the germs.
- Highly processed foods. After surgery, you may have a small appetite and be tempted to indulge in whatever sounds good. Highly processed foods are usually white, sweet and come in a package. Or they are artificially colored. These foods primarily provide your body with carbohydrates. This causes blood sugar spikes and high insulin levels. Both drain your body of energy and the ability to heal. Processed foods are also often stripped of fiber, which helps to keep your bowels moving. After surgery constipation can be a serious and uncomfortable condition. Counter this problem by adding extra vegetables and limiting processed foods in your diet.
- Alcohol. You might look forward to having a drink to unwind or relax post-surgery. But alcohol slows down the rate of blood clotting and makes your blood thinner. This can cause your incision to take longer to heal and you will also have an increased risk of bleeding. Alcohol also impairs your immune system, putting you at a higher risk for infection. Following surgery, you will heal faster when there is less swelling. Alcohol causes blood vessels to swell. One of the biggest reasons to avoid alcohol is how it affects your pain levels. You may think that a drink will help you feel better, but alcohol does not mix well with pain medication prescribed by your doctor. It can even be deadly to mix alcohol and pain pills.
Tips for a Fast Recovery after Surgery
Along with eating healthy after surgery, here are a few tips that can help you get back on your feet quicker.
- Manage your pain. You will experience pain after your surgery but following the pain medication plan that your doctor gives you can help. Make sure you are able to move comfortably. To help you sleep, you may want to ask your doctor if they recommend you take something before heading to bed.
- Get adequate rest. Sleep is when your body can repair and heal. Make sure that you set aside time each day for rest. Set up your night environment to be comfortable and calming and allow yourself regular rest periods throughout the day.
- Get moving. Physical activity is just as important as rest. Do not push yourself to the point of injury. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what activities you should be doing. Lying in bed all day can increase your risk of infection, pneumonia, and blood clots. Appropriate amounts of movement will help the flow of your blood, which can improve the healing process.
Proper nutrition and exercise can be difficult to maintain when you are on your own. Home Care Assistance caregivers are trained in nutrition and can assist with preparing meals, grocery shopping and even serve as a friendly face to sit with you as you eat, helping make a smooth transition home from the hospital. Our caregivers can also remind you to take your medicine, help set up a sleep-conducive environment, or assist with physical exercises.
Give yourself (or your loved one) the best possible chance for a speedy and uneventful recovery from surgery by stocking up on nature’s best medications: food. The types of food you eat will vary depending on your surgery and the medications you are on so talk to your doctor about your post-surgery diet.
But no matter your restrictions, this list of foods will benefit you in the following ways: these foods will decrease infections, speed up the healing process and increase your strength and energy.
Antioxidants – Research Continues to Reveal Their Health-Promoting Effects
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11 Best Healthy Fats for Your Body
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EGGS-actly What You Need to Build Muscle
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
Best Foods to Eat After Surgery
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Nutrition: Great foods for Getting Vitamins A to K in Your Diet
Learn about Home Care Assistance’s elderly, in home care by reading here.
Foods That Strengthen Your Tendons and Ligaments
A few weeks ago, my friend tweaked his finger. We weren’t entirely sure what he did to it, but he could feel a sharp pain in his palm when he isolated the finger.
I spent a few hours online trying to find a probable diagnosis and ultimately came across a great article on climbing.com called Finger Fixes.
This particular article was perfect because it outlined the different signs and symptoms of 3 very common finger injuries (A2 pulley, flexor tendon, and collateral ligament). This helped me formulate a recovery plan, but before I get into that, let’s start with the basics.
What are tendons?
Muscles tend to hog the spotlight when it comes to recovery and sports nutrition, but if you’ve ever injured a finger, then you know that your muscles are pretty useless without your tendons and ligaments.
Tendons are thick bundles of collagen that connect muscle to bone and allow movement, while ligaments are flexible bundles of collagen that connect bone to bone and protect your joints.
They have slightly different functions in the body, but they are both forms of connective tissue made up of collagen, elastin, proteoglycans (chains of sugars attached to proteins), and minerals like copper, manganese, and calcium.
Bell peppers, guava, kale, turnip greens, kiwi, broccoli, berries, oranges, grapefruit
Chickpeas, salmon, chicken, turkey, potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach, bananas
Clams, trout, salmon, beef, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soymilk
Spinach, almonds, peanuts, cashews, soymilk, black beans, avocado
Oysters, beef, lobster, pork chop, baked beans, chicken, cashews, chickpeas
The majority of connective tissue consists of a protein known as collagen. In order to make collagen, your body requires vitamin C and the mineral manganese.
Vitamins B6 and B12 support nerve function and aid in the formation of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which are used to form muscles, tendons and ligaments.
These B vitamins are found mostly in animal products, but you can also get them in a multivitamin or B complex vitamin. If you choose to take a supplement, look for methylcobalamin (B12) and pyridoxal-5-phosphate (B6), the active forms of these vitamins.
Magnesium is a mineral that aids in muscle relaxation, bone formation, and protein synthesis. It can be found in a standard multivitamin, or taken by itself.
Zinc is another mineral that aids in protein synthesis and tissue formation, as well as immune support.
As you can see, consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients your tendons and ligaments need.
Dr. J also recommends cutting back on your crimping, ditching the campus board, relying on comfrey cream, and resorting to acetaminophen if the pain is simply unbearable.
It’s best to avoid NSAIDS like ibuprofen and aspirin because they can damage the lining of your gut and weaken your immune system, which can delay healing. For more of Dr. J’s advice, visit his website.
**UPDATE** If you’re finding it difficult to include these foods in your diet, you can also try supplementing your diet with these nutrients by taking LigaPlex I (for maintenance), LigaPlex II (for acute injury), VitalProteins Collagen Peptides or SportsResearch Collagen Peptides (for maintenance or acute injury).
Finger-Fortifying Kale Salad
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 1 pineapple, peeled and cubed
- 2 small avocados
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
- Handful of unsweetened shredded coconut
- Wash kale and remove stems from kale leaves.
- Rip kale leaves into small pieces and place in large bowl.
- Massage kale until leaves soften and color darkens.
- Add remaining ingredients, toss, and enjoy!
- Top with protein of choice, if desired.
Nutrition for tendons and ligaments
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Are you frustrated by an ongoing tendon injury? Do you want to optimise your rehabilitation process? The good news is you can, tailoring your diet can actually aid your recovery time.
In the last newsletter Fran discussed how eating certain foods, in the right amounts and at specific times can help speed up the recovery time of muscle tears. The same approach can be also applied to tendon injuries.
Whilst previously tendon injuries and nutrition was not a well researched area, new evidence is now emerging that tendon rehabilitation is positively affected by a solid nutrition programme. A proper nutrition plan can positively influence the inflammation process, aid tendon repair and minimise the rate of muscle mass loss during the rest and recovery period.
One of the most important considerations is to avoid any nutrient deficiencies. Consuming inadequate calories, vitamins, minerals and the right balance of macronutrients – especially protein – will impair wound healing and exacerbate the loss of tendon, as well as muscle, mass and function.
- Tendon ruptures: Let’s take a look at protein considerations for a ruptured tendon. Tendons are the connection between the bone and muscle and made up of approximately 85% collagen. So, at a basic level the nutrients required to build tendons can help repair a rupture. Collagen is a protein, which is made from smaller building blocks called amino acids, and the major amino acids in tendon collagen are glycine and proline.
Good sources include: Gelatin products, soy beans, chicken and cheese (glycine). Avocado, asparagus, eggs and cottage cheese (proline)
Leucine, (an amino acid which was discussed in the previous article regarding muscle repair), is a key amino acid to include in your diet. It’s the only amino acid known to directly stimulate muscle cell growth and repair, and it’s also been shown to directly stimulate tendon formation.
Good sources include: lentils, tuna, cod, cottage cheese, almonds, milk and whey protein.
One of the features of tendons, and the reason they can be such an annoying ongoing injury, is that blood flow to the tendon can be pretty poor, resulting in difficulties supplying adequate nutrients to the area. Increasing the amount of dietary nitrates in your diet (beetroot, spinach, rocket and celery are all good sources) can positively influence the amount of nitric oxide in your blood, which is shown to help increase blood flow through the capillaries, by relaxing and widening the capillaries.
- Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons have been shown to respond well to omega 3 supplementation (1-2g/day). The effectiveness of this is increased further when combined with an increased intake of polyphenols. Good sources include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, spinach, olives, walnuts, green tea and 70% dark chocolate.
The evidence suggests omega 3 fatty acids and these polyphenols work in synergy with each other and, with a recommended physio programme, will reduce the pain associated with tendinitis.
So, taking control of your diet is a positive step you can make to get you, excuse the pun, up and running quicker. If you would like more information or a personal nutrition plan tailored to you then please call Fran on 07852 143804 or email [email protected]
Fran is offering a 20% discount to all The Physio Rooms newsletter subscribers until 30th June 2017.
How to Heal with Food: Nutrition for Injury Recovery
Six simple food and nutrition approaches for your injury recovery
1. Be kind to yourself
This is number one for a reason! Self-compassion is critical at this time.
If your mum’s lasagne is your favourite meal and her cooking it for you helps her show you love then enjoy it whole-heartedly. Enjoy a meal with family or friends as often as possible to get the social benefits from food: love, laughter, connection and whatever else you treasure.
This is not the time for putting militant dietary rules on yourself.
According to Tim Crowe, a Dietitian, Researcher and Educator from Thinking Nutrition by over-focusing on the food you ‘should’ be eating, you can increase your stress levels.
“Be kind to yourself and eat as well as you can in your situation and realise that there is no one perfect diet or way of eating. Get it right most of the time and don’t sweat on it the rest of it.”
Enjoying food with family and friends can provide nutrition for injury recovery and other social and mental benefits.
2. Be practical, make things easy
What is your practical capacity right now? Can you make your own food? Or are you on crutches with multiple injuries, barely able to make it to the kitchen let alone able to carry a plate of food with you?
Get clear on this so you know what you can do OR what help you need. Then ask for it.
Whether you need a family member or friend to bring you some food for a week or so or you need to get a longer-term carer to help, it’s important to get the help you need rather than toil away struggling alone. (And family members and friends often truly want to help so don’t deny them their chance to express their love and concern.)
Perhaps you can change the way you buy food by having it delivered and you make it yourself or have full meals delivered.
I couldn’t have survived without Lite ‘n Easy being delivered up my three flights of steps (read more about possible food delivery services in this helpful guide). When I was injured, in pain, barely sleeping and anxious about what was going to happen to my leg, I lost my appetite completely. Making food was tricky and the idea of cooking a yummy meal was beyond me, even though I craved nutritious foods like roasts and soups.
Here’s your Food & Recipes Cheat Sheet (**click the image to download it)
Download the Food & Recipes Cheat Sheet!
The Food & Recipes Cheat Sheet provides quick tips and advice from dietitians. PLUS 4 recipe ideas for you to prepare meals quickly and easily.
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3. Heed credible medical advice
What medical or health advice have you received prior to your injury and after? Do you know that you need to watch your cholesterol or your sugar intake to manage some health conditions?
Consider your general level of health and follow any new advice from your doctor, surgeon or dietitian about nutrition for injury recovery.
Check out our fabulous food tips from 7 dietitians and nutritionists here.
Depending on your injury (for example if you have burns or have been through major surgery), your doctor may recommend medical-type, nutrition products that need to be purchased from a pharmacy.
If you think you should talk to someone about food and nutrition for injury recovery, then talk to your doctor or find a credible professional in your country:
- Australia: Dietitians Association of Australia where you can find an accredited, practicing dietitian.
- United Kingdom: The Association of UK Dietitians
- Canada: Dietitians of Canada
- USA: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Asian countries, look for an organisation listed with the Asian Federation of Dietetic Associations (AFDA).
- Other countries: start with the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations.
4. Check in often with how you’re feeling
“How am I feeling today?” is a crucial question to ask yourself frequently. And you should consider your answer because food is an important contributor to general mental wellbeing.
If you’re feeling stressed or depressed, then you can use food and beverages as a way to relax, nourish yourself and share time with friends and family.
Does having your favourite flavour of tea or coffee at your local cafe usually bring you immense joy? Then do that often to help you feel better. Recovering from injury means taking each day at a time and looking for ways to work through emotions and find happiness again; so use meals or coffees out as a small thing to help.
If you have an upset stomach due to medications or because you are stressed/anxious/depressed, it’s important to change your diet accordingly and work through some of these issues as soon as possible.
As Fumi said in our interview together, stress is proven to reduce absorption of nutrients. Not want you want!
5. Eat a little more
When injured you’ll generally need a little more food than before injury (if you were eating the right number of kilojoules/calories) as your body is working hard to heal itself.
According to Michael Newell, in a recent article Here’s what to eat to recover from an injury: “when injured, your daily energy expenditure can increase by as much as 15–50% over normal, particularly if the injury is very bad”.
He goes on to say in his article that “If your injury is so bad you need crutches, your expenditure during walking can be even higher.”
No-one ever told me that and I wish I’d known because I lost so much muscle mass while non-weight bearing, on crutches. My left leg is still smaller than my right… Anyway, I digress.
So eating more? Check ✅
6. Focus on variety (not nutrients)
While what you eat delivers your nutrition for injury recovery, it’s better to focus on eating a variety of foods and enjoying the experience, rather than trying to add in nutrients specifically. However, if you’re like me and you’d like to know what the science says about changing nutrient needs during injury then this part is for you. Note there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach but having these ‘rules of thumb’ in the back of your mind can help.
Here’s the low-down from the dietitians:
According to Fumi Somehara, “Injury recovery is about key nutrients, but we don’t just eat nutrients, we eat food and food is much more to us than the nutrients it contains from the taste, social aspect, mindfulness during preparation and so on.”
“So, it is important to look at the bigger picture of the dietary patterns you’re following as it will be feeding much more than the injury,” she said.
“Typically when you’re injured you’ll need more energy and you need more protein and vitamins like A and C just to name a few,” she said.
“But most of the time the evidence isn’t clear-cut that if you eat X, Y, Z foods you will heal quicker. So you have to be willing to experiment. Just because the evidence shows one thing, if it’s not practical for your situation then it may not give you the most advantage,” said Fumi.
Tim Crowe added, “The most important nutrients in recovery from an injury are firstly adequate energy and then protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc and iron.”
“Magnesium is an important nutrient for fracture healing, but it is not of much benefit on it its own as the other three key nutrients of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K are just as important and that’s why there are now targeted supplements containing all these nutrients together.”
“Someone with severe burns would have incredibly high protein needs (more than double what is normal) because of the trauma from the wound so there is no fixed recommendation for all injuries. For someone in a recovery phase from an injury, the principle focus will be around eating as well as possible with a focus on key nutrients important in the healing process such as protein,” said Tim.
According to recent research, a deficiency of protein can impair all sorts of healing processes and affect the immune system, making it harder to fight off infection.
Remember that stress and worry about the food you’re eating can have a negative effect on your health (this too is proven by science).
Taking on board the approach from Kaitlyn Anderson, Dietitian and Nutritionist at Bite In2 Life of ‘less thinking, less stress’ is a great summary of this final point 6.
“I’m always very conscious of encouraging people to listen to what their body is telling them, and choose foods that help them to feel good within themselves rather than following a strict set of ‘rules’,” she said.
“The body does not use any one nutrient in isolation, and it is really about eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, not trying to be perfect,” said Kaitlyn.
In summary, it’s good to increase the variety, increase the nutritious foods, eat more protein, get a good balance of carbohydrates, fats (including monounsaturated fats and limiting animal fats and processed fats) and calories and see how you feel.
Through taking a positive and mindful approach to the food you eat you’ll be enhancing nutrition for injury recovery.
Eat a little more, focus on variety-filled meals and the experience, rather than a specific nutrient checklist. #Food tips for injury recovery @Recover_Injury
How to Recover Faster: 27 of the Best Foods for Healing
As a runner, getting hurt sucks.
Whether you have just recently joined the running injuries club or maybe you have been babying a nagging injury for a while now, it can be disheartening and frustrating when you can’t train as hard or as long as you wish.
Depending on the injury, research has shown that icing, message, compression, rest, strength work, and elevation are all successful treatments for injuries; however, to completely heal an injury time off is almost always a necessary element.
But, are there healing foods that aid muscle recovery?
If so, what are the best healing foods to load up on during this “waiting period” for runners with bone issues and tendonitis to help decrease healing time and get back to running?
Your body is built to heal from the inside out and eating recovery foods are important in the healing of injuries.
If you provide the right foods and nutrients to your body during the time of healing the duration of an injury can be shortened.
First: Make sure you’re eating enough
Research has shown that lack of nutrition can delay wound healing.
Our body’s use the nutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) from the foods we eat to aid in the process of recovery.
As such, when you’re limiting the amount of nutrients you put in your body, you now have less nutrients available to dedicate towards recovery.
So, you want to carefully balance eating enough calories to aid in recovery without going overboard and gaining weight.
The easiest way to do this is make sure all the foods you eat are nutrient dense and help with healing. This means no wasted calories!
What Foods Will Help Me Recover Faster?
If you happen to be fighting a nagging injury or have just recently picked up a runner injury, I suggest adding the following foods and nutrients to your diet to help get back on track with your training and allow your body to be at its best.
Even if you do not currently have any aches or pains, adding these foods into your diet can help prepare your body for healing if you should happen to get hurt.
Download our FREE recovery foods guide, with the top 10 foods for each of the essential recovery vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients. Plus a sample 1-day meal plan!
Foods rich vitamin C
Examples include: citrus fruits, kiwi, peppers and broccoli.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that your body does not have the ability to make, which means you need to consume it on a daily basis. Vitamin C plays an important role in the healing process by building new protein for the skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
Vitamin C also helps our bodies maintain cartilage and bone tissues. In addition to the healing properties, vitamin C offers internal protection against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in our body that can cause significant damage and come from our external environment, such as the foods we eat, high intensity work outs (like running), and chemicals we are exposed to.
Foods Rich in Vitamin A
Examples include: sunflower seeds, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, swiss chard, and spinach
Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells are the main “keepers of the injury”; they help fight off infection and viruses.
Even if you don’t have a visual injury like an open wound, your body will still rely on the production of white blood cells to protect the injury and increase the rate of healing.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Examples include: salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Many research studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation, so much so that other pain killers and drug may not be needed.
Most of these studies have been conducted on individuals with rheumatoid arthritis or other cases of extreme inflammation. The results of these numerous studies indicate that high quality omega-3s will reduce inflammation from an injury or daily run.
Reducing the swelling and inflammation around an injury will reduce the pain you may be experiencing and promote healing!
Foods Rich in Zinc
Examples include: oysters, nuts, seeds, and chicken.
Every single tissue in your body contains zinc; therefore, it becomes very important in the healing process of any injury. Zinc will help your body use the fats and proteins you consume to promote growth and healing of the injured tissue.
Zinc will also help keep your immune system strong, much like vitamin A, which will protect you from other infections or viruses.
Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Examples include: blueberries, tart cherries, prunes, turmeric, ginger, coffee.
Free radicals are the toxins that are roaming around our body, especially when we sustain a running injury. They make us weaker by taking from our healthy cells. Foods like blueberries, strawberries and tart cherries help to control those free radicals, so our body can focus on repair.
Ginger and numeric have also been named natures anti-inflammatory medicine as they accelerate recovery within our bodies.
Finally, coffee has been proven to not only decrease recovery time, but restore Central Nervous System function, so it can get back to making you better.
Foods Rich in Protein
Examples include: grass feed beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, Greek yogurt.
An injury to the body automatically increases the body’s demand for protein. Protein is required in multiple processes that take place as soon as the injury happens and through the injury recovery time.
How quickly and how well the injury heals can largely depend on consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein. Therefore, it is essential that runners who are hurt shift their diet from a high carbohydrate to high protein.
With races to train for and PR’s to hit, getting injured or staying injured is simply not an option for most of us.
If you are plagued by an old injury, just recently injured, or looking to prevent an injury, add these foods into your diet to give your body what it needs to protect, heal, repair, and recover as quickly as possible.
Download our FREE recovery foods guide, with the top 10 foods for each of the essential recovery vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients. Plus a sample 1-day meal plan!
Powerful Nutrition Tips for Injury Recovery
Food and supplements to speed up healing
By Delina Rahmate, Clinical Nutritionist
Are you injured and need to heal quickly? Aid the healing process with these powerful tips on nutrition for injury recovery. Put the right eating and supplement strategies to work for you.
Injuries happen. The question is – after they happen, how can you help the body heal?
For most athletes and the everyday person the idea that nutrition can play a powerful role in injury recovery makes perfect sense. Yet when injury strikes, very few of us know exactly how to use nutrition to improve healing.
Here are some best practices for using nutrition to dramatically speed up the injury recovery process for anyone whether we exercise or not.
Injury recovery: How the body works
When tissue is damaged in the body there are 3 steps to the recovery process;
- Stage 1: Inflammation- the area is swollen, red, painful and hot. Healing chemicals are attracted to the injured area.
- Stage 2: Proliferation- damaged tissues are removed; new blood supply and temporary tissue is built.
- Stage 3: Remodelling – Stronger more permanent tissue replaces temporary tissue.
Nutrition is important in all 3 stages.
Nutrition for Stage 1
In STAGE 1: Inflammation is critical as it triggers the repair process. Too much, however, can cause additional damage. These strategies help produce the right amount:
- Eat more anti-inflammatory fats such as cold pressed oils, avocado, fish oil, fish, nuts and seeds, flax oil or ground flax.
- Eat less pro-inflammatory foods such as: processed foods, take away foods, foods with trans fats, vegetable oils like canola, sunflower and soybean
- Include inflammation managing herbs and spices such as:
– Turmeric fresh/dried (up to 7 teaspoons a day: have with a little black pepper to help absorption) or curcumin/turmeric supplement- as directed by a professional.
– Garlic: 2-4 cloves per day
– Bromelain from pineapple: 2 cups per day or a supplement taken as directed by a professional
– Cacao, tea & berries: eat daily or supplement with blueberry or grape extracts, green tea extracts, citrus extracts and bioflavonoids
Nutrition for Stage 2 & 3
Energy intake is your first priority, even though you may not be able to train your metabolism can increase by 15-50% more than when you are sedentary.
- Eat adequate protein- legumes, eggs, plant-based protein, meat and fish (not processed meats). 1-1.2 gram/kg of body weight
- Balance dietary fats from different sources such as cold pressed oils, avocado, nuts and fish oils
- Eat the rainbow – include a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Eat enough carbohydrates – you will need fewer than when you are training but enough to support your recovery – choose minimally processed carbs such as whole oats, quinoa, wholegrain rice & sprouted breads.
- Supplements that may be considered for 2-4 weeks post injury (use under the direction of a professional) – Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Copper and Zinc.