Healing & Recovery Foods

WOW! I thought I took a short sabbatical from my monthly health letters, but when I sat down to start this one I found that my last edition went out in March. Boy, time does fly! Since that last post I had surgery to reattach my right proximal hamstring to my pelvic bone. I spent four weeks in a brace and on crutches. Now I’ve transitioned to the long road of physical therapy and strengthening. I’m equating this journey to pregnancy in my mind. It will be 9-12 months before I’m back to “normal.” That will certainly seem like a lifetime while I’m in this phase, but down the road, I’m hoping it will seem like a small blip

Have you ever been injured? If you have, you know it’s difficult to be patient during the healing process. You may have wondered, other than the obvious approaches of icing, massage, physical therapy, strength work and rest, are there other ways to heal muscles, tendons and joints and to shorten the duration?

Your body is built to heal from the inside out and eating nutritious foods is an important part of healing. Are there specific kinds of healing foods that aid in recovery and help decrease the healing time? Absolutely, and if you provide the right foods and nutrients to your body during the time of healing, the duration of an injury can be shortened and the likelihood of success can be increased.

Vitamin C plays an important role in the healing process by building new protein for the skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels and helping our bodies maintain cartilage and bone tissues. Foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus, kiwi, peppers and broccoli, contain water-soluble versions of the vitamin that your body does not have the ability to make. This means you need to consume foods like this on a daily basis for them to be effective.

Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells are the main “keepers of the injury.” They help fight off infection and viruses, protect the injury and increase the rate of healing. Foods Rich in Vitamin A include sunflower seeds, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, swiss chard and spinach.

Many research studies have found that Omega-3 Fatty Acids have the ability to reduce inflammation, so much so that other painkillers and drugs may not be needed. Reducing the swelling and inflammation around an injury will reduce the pain you may be experiencing and promote healing. Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids include salmon, flax seeds and walnuts.

Zinc will help your body use the fats and proteins you consume to promote growth and healing of the injured tissue. Zinc will also help keep your immune system strong and protect you from other infections or viruses. Foods rich in Zinc include oysters, nuts, seeds and chicken.

Protein is required in multiple processes that take place as soon as the injury happens and through the injury recovery time. An injury to the body automatically increases the body’s demand for protein. How quickly and how well the injury heals can largely depend on consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein. Foods Rich in Protein include animal sources like beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, plant sources like legumes and beans and dairy sources like greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

As I continue down this road to recovery, I plan to be very diligent with my physical therapy and my nutrition. I want to optimize every opportunity to heal and be even stronger than before


~Written by Rose Colleran ~

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