This guest post was written by Peak Performance intern Emily Reader, a Senior at Olivet Nazarene University majoring in Exercise Science.
When the body takes on a serious injury it needs time to start the healing process and restore to a fully functioning body again. Many factors play into how well the body recovers. The healing process can be positively reinforced through physical and also nutritional habits. Yes, that’s right! Nutrition plays a huge role in healing from an injury! Surprised? The body uses the food you consume to complete all stages of an injury. Here we will list some main ideas to help you through the healing stages of your injury.
Drink lots of Water! This will help to keep the body hydrated during physical therapy and keep fluids moving throughout the body. Try to drink 6-8, 8oz glasses of water each day.
Eat Carbohydrates that provide a good energy source. This allows the body to have ample fuel for daily bodily functions and also supply energy for healing the injury. Try and eat carbs throughout the day.
- whole grain
Protein is your friend! Protein will help to restore and recover muscles after rigorous use or injury. It is best to consume protein after exercise or physical therapy.
- lean meats
- greek yogurt
- cottage cheese
Eat “good fats”! Healthy fats can help to reduce inflammation. Fats can be eaten throughout the day but try to avoid eating them directly before exercise because they can give a “sluggish” feeling.
- peanut butter
- Olive oil
Don’t forget about Vitamins and Minerals! These each have their own purpose. They can be consumed throughout the day in the foods you eat.
- Vitamin C-helps to reform skin and protect from infection. Found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits
- Vitamin D- Builds up strong bones when combined with calcium. Found in milk. (And sunshine of course!)
- Vitamin E- helps to reduce swelling and bruising in affected area. Found in
- Vitamin A- helps with bone reformation. Can be found in
- Zinc-Helps make the new skin strong. Found in seafood and Zinc
- Iron- Main component of blood which travels through injured area to heal the wound. Found in spinach, red meats, and eggs
- Calcium- Builds strong bones when combined with calcium. Found in milk and dark leafy green foods.
Myth! “Eat fewer calories so you don’t gain weight.” This is false! The body actually needs more calories than a non-exercising healthy person. Believe it or not the injury process requires more energy from the body which in turn requires more calories to be consumed. Try to consume about the same amount of calories you currently do now and maybe a bit more even.
Cues for a healthy diet!
- Try to eat meals containing all or majority of the nutrients above.
- Cut all “empty calorie” foods from your diet! They won’t benefit the healing process. This includes fried foods, high sugar drinks, and desserts, etc.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables. This will help to assure you are getting plenty of different vitamins and minerals in your system.
- If you are a picky eater, supplement your meals with multivitamins, shakes, or enriched drinks.