Dietitian Ashleigh Feltham helps her patients injuries through nutrition. Here is a short blog post she has written:
We all get injured at some point in our life but staying injured for a longer period of time because of poor diet is not fun. So how do you maximise the rate of recovery? There are key nutrients, vitamins and minerals which play roles in healing.
- Energy! Energy comes in the forms of protein, carbohydrate and fat and is needed for the body to have the energy to not only stay alive but to heal. Energy is specifically needed for collagen synthesis and if you do not get enough energy your body will use protein. Protein is needed for healing and you want to reserve the role of protein to be specifically to heal, not to use for energy.
- Protein. We need protein to heal the wound or injury and create new cells. Protein is made up of things called amino acids, one amino acid which becomes essential to complete a protein when you injure your body is L-arginine.
What does L-arginine do?
- Decreases muscle loss
- Heals the skin of a wound faster as it helps collagen synthesis.
- Helps you immune system work better during the healing process.
Where can you get L-arginine?
The first place to go is foods which are animal based. These contain all the essential amino acids needed for a protein cell to be created. During wound healing you may need up to 9g of L-arginine a day. I recommend seeing an Accredited Practicing Dietitian to make sure you are covering your needs and determine if supplementing with other commercial based products may be needed.
Where can you get animal protein?
Another great source of protein which is not animal based are beans and legumes e.g. chickpeas, kidney beans. These are not a ‘complete’ protein as they do not contain all the amino acids needed to make the whole protein but when eaten in combination with other non-animal protein sources like whole grains, nuts and seeds they can become complete.
The vitamins and minerals needed for healing are like the nuts and bolts in the system to allow the healing process to occur are:
- Vitamin C – citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, broccoli, capsicum.
- Vitamin E –vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin A – found in milk, cheese, eggs, fish, margarine, butter, dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, red fruits and vegetables.
- Zinc –found in red meat, nuts, fish, shellfish, milk products, chicken, wholegrain cereal products, beans.
- Iron- found in red meat, organ meat, eggs, wholegrain bread, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit and nuts. (Note the non-animal sources need to be eaten with vitamin C to increase how much the body takes in and uses.)
One more important factor often forgotten is fluid! If you are dehydrated your skin becomes drier and this makes healing a lot harder for your body. When you are hydrated the blood flows through the body a lot more easily and this helps things be removed and replaced for healing easier, good news if you want to heal at a faster rate.
The bottom line? You may not be able to stop becoming injured but you can decrease the time you are injured!
- Assoc Prof Geoff Sussman DBM, Ashley Sandison APD. Wound Healing [Internet]. Australia: Dietitians Association of Australia; 2009 [cited 10/10/2016]. Podcast. Available from: http://www.webpresent.com.au/present/daa/daa_05062009_nutritionandwoundhealing/player.html