How Do I Use My Diet To Heal Faster From Injury
Whether it’s a broken bone or a twisted ankle, we’ve all been there. Injuries are not only annoying because they change our lifestyle, but they also take time to heal. If they aren’t treated correctly, they can take a much longer time to heal. Consuming the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals while overcoming an injury is SO important for an effective recovery. Here are a few facts to keep in mind when preparing meals or going out to eat.
Following an injury, the body still needs adequate calories, if not a little extra, despite a person’s ability to stay active. This is often surprising to hear since many injuries will result in a person moving around less. However, the body’s metabolism increases following an injury because the body is working harder to repair damaged tissue. The greater the extent of the injury, the more calories the body needs. You may not need as many as when you were exercising regularly, but you will still need more than your “resting” needs. Although, the kind of calories we consume becomes more important.
Good fats do exist. Primarily, we are looking at foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, so they can reduce the production of cytokines. Cytokines are chemicals in the body that promote inflammation. By helping the body get rid of cytokines, the inflammation will go down that much faster.
Fats to include in your day:
- Flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, soybeans, halibut, scallops, shrimp, tofu, and tuna are some of the foods richest in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fish-oil capsules serve as a supplemental option. Current recommendations are 3-6 (g) per day to assist with inflammation in the body.
- Concussions are a traumatic brain injury. The brain responds best to DHA. The recommendation is ~1g of DHA per day when recovering from a concussion.
Fats to avoid: omega-6 fatty acids and trans-fatty acids.
- Vegetable oils, fried foods, and processed foods
While fats are helping to fight the actual inflammation, protein is the next nutrient to focus on. Proteins are made up of amino acids and are necessary for wound healing and muscle building. By enjoying a diet rich in lean chicken, beef, fish and eggs, a person will get the benefits of all of the essential amino acids, which make up protein. By consuming 1.5-2g protein per kilogram of body weight per day, protein can begin to rebuild the injury. Other options to consider are:
- Amino acid supplements (arginine, glycine, taurine, glutamine, and leucine) have been found to reduce inflammatory agents in the body. For vegetarians or vegans, or anyone concerned about consuming enough amino acids, a supplement might be a good choice. Make sure to look for one without fillers and only containing amino acids. Protein powder is an easy supplement to add to smoothies, oatmeal, etc.
- Some amino acids are more powerful than others when it comes to healing including arginine, glutamine, & HMB.
- When considering supplements, these are the guidelines per day: Arginine: 15-30g per day; Glutamine 14g per day; HMB 3g per day
Spicy foods are often mentioned when talking about the immune system or healing. Additional foods that reduce inflammation in the body include curcumin, ginger, capsaicin (hot peppers), and garlic. By including these foods or herbs in your daily diet, you can give your body a boost!
Last, strive for 0.5 – 1 fl. oz of water per pound per day. For example, a 150-pound woman needs to have a goal of drinking 75-150 ounces of water per day. Start at the lower end and work your way up by carrying a water bottle with you in the car and at work.
Healthy Eating Habits during Injury/Recovery
Each meal/snack should contain complete protein including lean meats, lean dairy, eggs, or protein supplements (if whole food is unavailable or for vegetarians/vegans needing extra nutrients).
2) Vegetables and Fruit
Each meal/snack should contain 1-2 servings veggies and/or fruit with a greater focus on veggies.
Carbohydrates should come from whole grain, minimally processed sources like whole oats, yams, beans, whole grain rice, quinoa, etc. It is not ok to completely cut out carbs, even during a time without exercise.
Try to incorporate each of the following good fats daily – avocados, olive oil, mixed nuts, flax seeds, and flax oil. In addition, 3-6g of fish oil should be added to the diet to provide additional omega-3, especially on days without fish consumption.
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.