When it comes to recovering from an injury, nutrition is one piece of the puzzle. It may not be a huge piece but could it be somewhat significant in delaying or promoting healing. In general I feel like I have a pretty good balance when it comes to my nutrition, so I hadn’t really focused on this at all over the past couple of months while recovering from my foot injury. I do believe there is always room for improvement with nutrition, or at the very least there could be a potential benefit from trying something different if the status quo isn’t working.
I don’t think that my diet was necessarily delaying my healing, and even if it was I don’t really regret it. When you are already dealing with the emotional side of being injured, forcing yourself to eat a certain way may be more troublesome than it’s worth. I also wasn’t about to clean up my eating when I was on vacation. That was a time to indulge and try to take my mind off anything stressful.
About a month ago Laura reached out and asked if I would be interested in taking her “Mastery Your Fueling and Hydration” E-course (affiliate link) in exchange for a review. Of course I was excited by the opportunity and immediately agreed, despite not being able to immediately implement the suggestions. Once I have a chance to use some of the information I have learned in my training, I will be posting a full review. As I was reading the module on “Eating for Recovery and Injury Prevention” it got me thinking about some small changes I could make to my diet to ensure that my injury heals as quickly as possible. I did some research and thought I would share what I have learned.
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist. This information was gathered from the links included in this post.
Stage 1: Inflammation (the first 4-5 days of a soft-tissue injury or 2-3 weeks of a bone injury when inflammation takes place to clear out the injured tissue debris)
Stage 2: Proliferation (when temporary replacement tissues are formed and lasts about 2-3 weeks for soft tissue injury and 10-12 weeks for bone injury)
Stage 3: Remodeling (New tissues as strong as the original issues are formed and can take 1-2 years or longer)
Well, that really puts things in perspective! Basically, for 3 weeks after pain from inflammation has subsided there is just temporary tissue in place to provide some support but it is not as strong as the original tissue.
This article also talks about managing inflammation by paying attention to the ratio of fats consumed and making sure you are getting enough fats during the inflammation phase. Furthermore, there is mention of incorporating anti-inflammatory foods and herbs such as numeric, garlic, pineapple, cocoa, tea, and blueberries. However, you don’t want to go overboard and suppress the inflammatory process. Our bodied need this step to clear out the damaged tissues.
Laura also talked about the importance of fats for runners in this blog post, and even shared research that runners who restricted their dietary fat intake had a higher risk of injury.
Another interesting fact shared in the article is the estimated caloric needs of someone experiencing an injury. While we may not need as many calories as we would during a period of intense training, we still require at least 15% more than if we were sedentary. Depending on the severity of an injury, this may be closer to 50% more.
- make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates from grains, fruits and vegetables so that protein can be used to repair muscles
- include 20-30 grams of protein at each meal from meats, legumes, nuts and dairy
- incorporate fat from fish, nuts, oils, flax, and avocado
- consume a wide range of colorful fruits and veggies to get all necessary vitamins
- an iron and/or zinc supplement may be needed (consult with a doctor to determine your levels)
- use anti-inflammatory compounds like turmeric, garlic, cocoa, and green tea to help promote a quick recovery
I also enjoyed reading this article : 7 Reasons Your Injury is Not Getting Better. It talks about more than just nutrition, like staying active, getting enough sleep, and staying positive.
Some vitamins and minerals recommended here are Vitamins A, B, C, D, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. These all support tissue regeneration and repair. It’s important to eat mostly unprocessed food including lots of fruits and vegetables to ensure consumption of all of these micronutrients.
Also, as much as I didn’t like to read this: “Alcohol impedes muscle development and recovery as it impairs muscle growth, dehydrates the body, depletes energy, and reduces the body’s ability to produce ATP. Furthermore, it negatively affects the body’s sleep patterns. In simple terms, alcohol negatively affects muscle recovery, slowing down the healing process and ensuring your injury stays around much longer than necessary.”
Don’t worry, I’m not totally giving up my wine but it is good to keep in mind, especially to make sure that dehydration is prevented by drinking even more water if I do have alcohol.
After combing through some of this information, there are a few minor changes that I am planning to make. Overall, I feel like I am on the right track because I eat mostly unprocessed foods and try to incorporate a wide range of fruits and vegetables. I have always had difficulty making sure I am eating enough fat, so that will be one thing I will be more mindful of. I am planning to go back to eating salmon once a week (I had gotten sick of it after a while) and using nut butters in my snacks. I’ll also be making smoothies and using yogurt, chia seeds, and ground flax.
Here are a few recipes I found that include many of the foods recommended for injury recovery:
Pineapple ginger turmeric smoothie (using Greek yogurt instead of protein powder)
My own combo of 2% plain Greek yogurt, almond butter, chia seeds and blueberries
Do you incorporate certain foods or specific nutrients in your diet as a way to recover from or prevent injury?
Do you feel like you consume enough fats daily?
When you are injured, do you find that you drink more or less alcohol?