Patients often ask what they can do to help themselves heal faster after an injury or surgery. An important but often overlooked component of healing is proper nutrition. When you strain a muscle or have surgery there is damage to the tissues. In order for the tissues to repair themselves they require the proper mixture of rebuilding materials and a strong immune system to fight off bacteria that interferes with healing. Nutrients in our diet supply those essential ingredients. The following list are recommendations during the healing phase or recovery period:
1) Take in adequate calories. Your body is working harder to repair tissues and may require additional calories.
2) Consume foods high in protein. Protein provides the building materials of tissues and is essential to the healing process. It is also a vital part of the immune system. High quality protein rich foods include eggs, soy, milk, yogurt, meat, fish and poultry.
3) Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps make collagen and other connective tissues that knit the body back together. Good food sources include oranges and other citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe and kiwi.
4) Zinc. Low levels of zinc can lead to poor wound healing. Meat, seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals are all good sources of zinc.
5) Omega-three fats. These fats are found in your diet and are essential to the normal function of all body systems. A diet rich in fish, certain oils, raw nuts and seeds is recommended to ensure proper levels of Omega 3’s.