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.