Today, I wanted to share a few things with you about nutrition as it relates to injury. Of course you know nutrition is a huge part of controlling your weight, but when you get injured, the length of your downtime is determined by 2 things:
- the severity of the injury,
- the degree to which your body is nutritionally prepared to handle the new stress.
First, have you ever pulled a muscle (like a hamstring, back, or tweaked neck) and spent weeks in pain, with limited range of motion and mobility? Maybe you swelled up like a softball, or ended up with chronic pain or discomfort?
We have all experienced an injury on some level, and of course rest, icing, physical therapy exercises and mobility work can help strengthen muscle fibers and restore some of your range of motion, but the body actually heals from the inside out.
By following the nutritional tips below and consuming these 5 foods prior to, at the time of injury, and during recovery, you will decrease your recovery time and spend less time swollen and in pain!
1) Protein: Grass fed beef, free range chicken, fish, eggs
– The body needs 75-100g/day to maintain muscle mass & soft tissue.
– Injury automatically increases the demand for protein, as it is required in multiple processes that take place as soon as an injury happens and during recovery.
– Speed and quality of recovery largely depend on your consumption of adequate amounts of high quality protein.
2) Vitamin C: Berries, citrus, kiwi, peppers, broccoli
– The body does not have the ability to produce vitamin C from within, so it must be consumed.
– Vitamin C helps the body build new proteins for the skin, scar tissue, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels.
– Helps to maintain cartilage and bone tissue.
3) Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, winter squash
– It promotes the production of white blood cells which helps the body fight off infection and viruses.
– White blood cells also protect the site of external and internal injury, increasing the rate of healing.
4) Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, flax seed, walnuts
– Studies show these fatty acids have the ability to help the body reduce inflammation to the point of being able to eliminate the need for pain killers in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
– They help reduce swelling and alleviate pain, ultimately promoting healing.
5) Zinc: Oysters, nuts, seeds, chicken
– Zinc is found in every single tissue in the human body.
– Helps the body use fats and proteins consumed to promote growth and healing of injured tissues.
– Helps keep the immune system strong.
As a bonus tip, I wanted to quickly touch on the myth that you will gain weight when you get injured (mainly due to the thinking that you will be bed-ridden or stuck on the couch recovering) and how this type of thinking can actually cause you to be in recovery longer, lose muscle mass, and end up weaker than you were before you were injured.
It’s important to know that when an injury happens, the body burns 5-50% more calories than when normally at rest, depending on the severity of the injury.
It is also important to know that if you are a chronic dieter or have poor eating habits, you are most likely in a state of malnutrition and are absolutely prone to injury.
Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain proper nutrition before, during, and after any kind of injury to maximize your body’s healing potential and minimize recovery time.
Rick Kaselj, MS
For your guide to the best foods to heal your body, check out The Best Foods that Rapidly Slim & Heal in 7 Days, here!