Nutrition for Injury and Recovery: 8 Tips to Cut Your Downtime
Sports, high-intensity training, hiking, and other types of exercise can be good for your health, but they can also cause traumas that have long-lasting repercussions. Working with a qualified physician at Orthopedic Physician Associates is a great way to accelerate your recovery, but there are also other elements that will determine how long it takes to heal.
Besides giving us energy, the food we eat also affects every body function, including how fast we recover from injuries. In this article, we’ll explain how our diet impacts the body’s healing process. We’ll also go over a few tips to help you get the best nutrition for injury and recovery.
How Does Food Affect Our Recovery Period?
Whether you’re a professional athlete or you simply live an active lifestyle, suffering an injury is never a good thing. There are many different factors that affect your recovery time and your diet is one of the most important ones.
The food we eat gives us the building blocks that we use for all biological processes. Certain ingredients can affect responses like inflammation, promote tissue regeneration, and reduce muscular atrophy, among other things.
These healing foods can help you make a faster recovery, but you also need to work with a qualified orthopedic specialist to identify the best approach for your specific injury.
How to Reduce Downtime with the Right Nutrition for Injury and Recovery
All athletes are different, so you need to ensure that the meal plan you choose will address the specific trauma you suffered. Although you should definitely work with a qualified physician, you can always start by learning about the properties that each ingredient has.
Here are some of the foods that promote healing and can help you make a faster recovery.
Muscle and Soft-Tissue Injuries
Muscle and soft tissue injuries can range from sprains to torn ligaments and ruptured tendons. These soft, connective tissues are made up of collagen, elastin, and other organic components. Eating the right foods can promote the production of these natural compounds, which in turn can affect regeneration time.
Any athlete researching nutrition for injury and recovery will come across protein-rich foods. Proteins are a type of nutrient that your body uses to build soft tissue, but they also help control inflammation response. Because injured parts are usually immobilized, having a protein-rich diet can help reduce muscle loss and give you the nutrients you need to repair the damage.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids play a key role in the regulation of inflammation. Keep in mind that swelling is normal because it helps our body identify the area that needs to be repaired.
That said, prolonged inflammation can also slow down your recovery. In these cases, eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce excessive swelling. At the same time, avoiding ingredients that have high omega-6 fatty acids may help lower the chances of long-term inflammation even more.
Vitamin C and Antioxidants
Vitamin C plays a huge role in your recovery as it can help keep your skin, bones, and soft tissues in good condition. It also has antioxidant properties, which can reduce the negative effects that free radicals and other pollutants have on your body. Finally, vitamin C also shows anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal booster for patients recovering from a bad trauma.
If the trauma is bad enough, it can result in broken bones. Depending on the part of the body and the activity you practice, this can translate to weeks or months of downtime. In some scenarios, bone fractures can sideline athletes for a whole season, which puts a lot of focus on the recovery process.
There’s a good chance you learned about calcium-rich foods at school. If you are looking for the best nutrition for injury recovery, then milk, cheese, and vegetables that contain a lot of calcium should be close to the top of the list. Especially if you’re dealing with a severe fracture.
Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium
Iron is an essential mineral that helps your body produce red blood cells and collagen, which in turn aids bone regeneration. Magnesium promotes healthy nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and bone production. Finally, potassium regulates muscular contractions and ensures your nerves are working properly.
Vitamin D is only found in a handful of ingredients, but it’s necessary if you want to reduce downtime from a fracture. This vitamin helps store minerals in your bones and increases the amount of calcium your blood can absorb.
Other Types of Injuries
From deep cuts to bad infections, injuries can come in a variety of forms. If you are dealing with a lesion that’s not a fracture or soft-tissue damage, there are still foods that may accelerate your recovery.
Zinc is another essential mineral that plays a key role in wound healing. It’s present in proteins and enzymes that are in charge of healing open cuts. At the same time, having a diet low in zinc has been linked with delayed healing and a higher chance of infection.
We’ve mentioned collagen before in this article, and for good reason. This type of protein plays a critical role when it comes to repairing skin and cartilage. But, keep in mind that your body makes collagen from other compounds, so you can’t simply increase the amount you take.
Instead, you should focus on giving your body the nutrients it needs to create this natural compound. Collagen is made from vitamin C, copper, zinc, and a combination of additional proteins. That said, our body slowly loses the ability to make collagen, so working with a physician is crucial to finding the best approach.
Work with a Reliable Orthopedic Specialist
Besides being painful, a bad injury can keep you out of action for a long period of time. In addition to taking your physical therapy seriously, you should also make changes to your diet in order to accelerate your recovery as much as possible.
If you want to learn more about getting the best nutrition for injury recovery or our orthopedic services, please schedule an appointment and our team will be glad to help.