Injuries suck – plain and simple.
They are especially frustrating for those who are used to being active. The standard protocol for injuries is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), therapeutic exercise and painkillers.
Here’s why diet should play a big part in this equation and how to optimize eating to help hasten recovery.Common Injuries
There are so many types of injuries and nutritional strategy will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury amongst other factors. Some of the more common injuries are;
- Sprains: Injury to ligament tissue
- Strains: Injury to muscle or tendon tissue
- Fractures: Injury to bone tissue
Nutritional Goals for Recovery
1. Balance inflammation:
- Inflammation occurs at the onset of an injury. It is a protective and healing mechanism
- It is crucial to the initial healing process but needs to be controlled.
- Failure to control inflammation can cause scar tissue to form.
2. Facilitate optimal wound healing:
- 5-7 days post injury/surgery brings about skeletal muscle breakdown, which triggers metabolic and hormonal reactions that suppress the immune system
3. Support tissue healing
- Ligaments and tendons generally have poor blood supply, therefore incomplete healing is common after injury.
- Incomplete healing can result in chronic pain and weakness – ultimately interfering with return to optimal health.
4. Correct calorie and protein imbalance
- Following an injury/surgery, metabolic rate jumps by as much as 30%! This greatly influences the body’s need for extra calories and protein.
Nutritional Strategies for Injury Recovery
- Increase protein intake to offset potential muscle breakdown that can occur post-injury
- Aim for a range of 1.5-2.og/kg.
- Protein meals should be divided among 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day and should ideally consist of lean, complete and bioavailable sources (poultry, fish, eggs, lean beef, cottage cheese, whey protein powder).
- Good sources are: veggies and fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, oats. Avoid sugars and refined carbs.
- Include carbs in sufficient amounts in early stages to keep calories sufficient, but consider cutting back after a week or two post-injury/surgery – especially if weight control is a concern.
- Fats are formidable allies in reducing inflammation. Omega-3’s are the hallmark fats for reducing inflammation. Monounsaturated fats are also helpful.
- Good fat sources include: Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines), flaxseeds, nuts, olive oil, avocados, pumpkin/sunflower/sesame seeds.
- Fats that can hinder healing by increasing inflammation: Trans fats, omega-6 fats and saturated fats.
Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
Why it’s good: Promotes cell growth/repair, boosts immune function, and enhances bone development.
Food sources: Liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, spinach, papaya, red peppers.
Amount: Up to 10,000 I.U.’s
Why it’s good: Collagen formation, replenishes blood levels of vitamin C brought on by injury, enzyme activity for metabolism, increased immune function
Food sources: Broccoli, red peppers, oranges, strawberries, cabbage, grapefruit, cantaloupe.
Why it’s good: Wound healing, enzyme reactions
Food sources: Meat, seafood, sunflower seeds, almonds
Amount: 15-30 mg
Supplements that May be Helpful
- Fish oil
- Amino Acids (arginine, ornithine, glutamine)
Superfoods for Recovery
- Salmon (omega-3’s)
- Almonds (fat/protein, zinc)
- Olive oil (Anti-inflammatory – works like ibuprofen)
- Broccoli (vitamin C, fiber, antibacterial)
- Apples (flavanoids – protect cells from oxygen damage, prevent inflammation
- Curry (anti-inflammatory)
- Pineapple (bromelain – analgesic)
- Garlic (allicin – anti-inflammatory, improves macrophage function)
- Grass fed beef (protein, vitamin, minerals)
- Papaya (vitamins A, C and papain – enzyme that increases immune function)
This diet can help you get on your feet again and help you find exclusive health insurance leads. Get your body back on track and save money on health insurance! Now that’s motivation. Injuries can be frustrating, no doubt about it. But if it does happen, you want to be able to use every tool at your disposal – including nutrition.
- American Dietetic Association: Nutrition in Rehabilitation and Recovery from Injury
- Dieticians Canada
- Injuries: Nutrition and Recovery. John M. Berardi and Ryan Andrews
- Nutrition sports injury therapies: What you eat can play a significant part in preventing or healing a sports injury. Jim Bledsoe
- Recovery Nutrition for the Injured athlete. Kim Mueller, M.S., R.D.
- World’s Healthiest Foods Website: www.whfoods.org
- The PowerfoodNutrition Plan: Susan M. Kleiner, PhD