Looking for healthy diet tips to speed up recovery of a muscle or tendon injury? Or did you know that some foods aid the repair of skin tissues, like with a pressure ulcer? Understanding how to fuel your body’s own incredible ability to heal itself can not only expedite recovery times after intense training, injury or surgery, but also transform your overall wellbeing in general. Check out these vital tissue-building vitamins and minerals, and where to find them:
Did you know vitamin C plays a critical role in the development of tissue, all the way from building tiny blood vessels to constructing the outer layer of your skin? In addition to helping your body absorb iron, vitamin C is required for the formation of proteins which grow skin, ligaments, vascular tissue, and help repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth. Fruits high in vitamin C include cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi. High doses of Vitamin C can also be found in vegetables like broccoli and red bell peppers.
Any wound or injury immediately calls on protein reinforcements from the body to start building new tissue and repairing the damaged ones. Incorporating lean proteins low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium means stocking up on legumes, like black beans, skinless chicken, grass-fed lean beef, and heart-healthy fatty fish. Even grains like spelt and quinoa contain protein and can benefit a balanced diet.
In addition to supporting your immune health by fighting off invading viruses and bacteria, zinc stimulates cell growth and division which is required for generation of new cells to rebuild tissue and muscle. As well, zinc plays a part in how your body synthesizes the proteins it needs to keep tissues and skin strong. Zinc can be found in foods like seafood, beef, chicken, nuts, seeds like flax and pumpkin, spinach, and raw milk.
Chockful of lycopene, an antioxidant that supports healthy immunity, tomatoes can ward off potential infection of wounds and assist the healing process. Additional antioxidants like those in blueberries, dark chocolate, and cranberries prevent oxidation, or the metabolism of oxygen in the body which creates free radicals and damages cells. Incorporate more slices of fresh tomato into your sandwiches and salads, seek out wild blueberries at summer markets, and treat yourself to a little dark chocolate for dessert.
Potassium is a key electrolyte that helps regulate muscle contraction and the water-salt balance in your body, amongst other things. Healthy levels of potassium can support a normal blood pressure which ensures regular circulation of oxygen and nutrients in your blood to aid wound healing. Foods high in potassium include acorn squash, bananas, sweet potato, avocados, and dark leafy greens like spinach.
In addition to a diet rich with tissue-building vitamins and minerals, natural wound repair must be aided by protection – foods cannot do it alone. For someone with mobility problems experiencing pressure ulcers from time spent in bed, protecting bed sores with dressings, barrier creams, and alternating positions is vital to healing. Even foot sores from diabetes, hammer toes, or bunions can use a little cushioning, like hammer toe pads and bunion guards, to prevent and/or heal skin irritation and breakdown. The muscle repair which follows a sports injury like an ankle sprain may require bracing to stabilize and support affected tendons and joints during recovery as well.
Recovery and healing shouldn’t only be all about doctors, shots, and prescriptions. Embracing your body’s own ability to self-heal, regrow tissue, and repair damage is a simple as supporting a healthy diet and protecting yourself from future injury.
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