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Healing from an Injury: Tips for your Diet

By Kim Meano

I can relate to Terrance’s last blog. I’ve been injured many times and often suffer from some “itis,” or inflammation. While inflammation is crucial to the healing process, it does need to be controlled. Taking time to change your training, or your daily routine, while you heal is important. There are other key factors in healing as well.

  • Keeping your nutrition in check:

It’s not a cue to go off and binge eat just because you cannot train. It’s important to stay on a good clean diet to maintain good weight as well as aiding in the healing process. Know what macronutrients will support specific injuries and help speed healing. In response to injuries, nutrient requirements aren’t a matter of just upping a caloric intake. There’s more to it. Injury to bone tissue (fractures), muscle or tendon tissue (strains) or injury to ligament tissue (sprains) would require different nutritional needs.

  • Proteins:

Don’t skimp on the calories while healing from a sports-related injury. You will need to provide enough fuel for your brain, muscles and organs to function. Be careful if you are losing weight, your body may not be getting enough protein to make a full recovery, which may delay the healing process.

Animal proteins – included are whey and casein. Casein prevents muscle breakdown and is slower absorption. Whey is easier to digest and absorbed quicker making it a better choice for recovering from injuries.

Vegetable proteins – Soy is noted as one of the best for recovery. In combination with rice and legumes, they contain all the essential amino acids needed.

Other proteins such as eggs, fish & lean meats are needed in recovery as well.

  • Fats:

While you’re trying to recover from bone injury, don’t run for the low-fat diet thinking you’re going to…. get fat. This has been shown with high-impact athletes and particularly runners on low-fat diets. Many on low-fat diets often suffer from stress fractures. Poor tissue maintenance, delayed repair of muscle damage and bone matrix mineralization are all at risks from a low-fat diet.

Try reducing your intake of saturated fat, poultry skin, products made with coconut oil and avoid margarine & vegetable shortening.

Start including avocados, nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews (butters with these too!), extra virgin olive oil and canola oil. Omega 3’s are a must for reducing inflammation. If you’re not into eating salmon, herring, sardines or mackerel, try taking Fish Oil (EPA).

  • Some additional information to help you while you recover:

B vitamins, especially B₂, aids in tissue repair.

Vitamin C is necessary to make collagen which strengthens the connective tissue, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Severe injury can increase the need for vitamin C requirements. A Deficiency can delay healing. Vitamin C can also reduce pain and speed recovery of muscle after intense training. It can also help heal fractures.

Vitamins D & K are very important for bone strengthening. Vitamin D is most important because calcium is better absorbed into bone when supplemented with it. K is necessary to make the correct form of ostercalcin, one of the most important non-collagen proteins found in parts of bone.

Glucosamine helps build cartilage. It helps build strong joints, ligaments and tendons. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate produce a material the body needs for healthy skin, tendons, ligaments and joints.

Bromelain is an enzyme that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to help heal minor sprains and strains. Bromelain also reduces inflammation and improves blood circulation.

***As with any vitamins, minerals and supplements, always consult your doctor and have routine blood work before adding any to your daily regimen.