Although many people already know that proper nutrition can improve health and manage weight loss, many are unaware that nutrition can also be used to improve the healing and recovery process after theÂ occurrenceÂ of an injury.
Over the course of most people’s lives they will sustain an injury.Â WhetherÂ it’s a broken bone or a sprained ankle, immediately following the injury the body goes through a series of responses to start healing itself.
Healing can be divided into three stages:
- The inflammation stage
- The reparative stage
- TheÂ remodeling stage
Like most stages, you can only progress to the next step once the previous one has been successfully completed. This is where nutrition comes in.Â Research has found that what you eat while recovering can actually speed up or inhibit the healing process because ofÂ nutrition’sÂ affect on inflammation.
Inflammation is the cause of pain during an injury, but it also is the first, essential component of the normal healing process.Â However, incomplete healing or inflammation that goes array can block the next stages of healing (the repair and remodeling stages) fromÂ occurring, and thus inducing a longer recovery time and/or chronic pain. Itâ€™s not about isolating and knocking out inflammation, but making it functional.
When many people sustain injuries, anti-inflammatory medicines areÂ prescribed. These medicines may not work for everyone and can have unwanted side-effects. In fact, these medicines can be supplemented with proper nutrition. There are severalÂ foods and nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties and many times patients respond quicker nutriton that prescription. On the other hand,Â there are also foods that haveÂ propertiesÂ that increase inflammation and prolong the healing process.
What to Eat
There are several foods and nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties.
The antioxidantsÂ vitamins E and C, lycopene, and alphaâ€lipoic acid have been suggested to be beneficial inÂ suppressing inflammation and improving theÂ healing process. This is because vitamin C prevents bone loss and the other antioxidants reduce inflammation.
Foods packed with these beneficial nutrients include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, and berries, in particular strawberries and blueberries. Green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, also are great sources of Vitamin C. Nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, and dried apricots are excellent sources of vitamin E. Â Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, but the powerful nutrient is also found in other red fruits and vegetables, such red bell peppers and watermelons.Â Sources of alpha-lipoic acid – which can help regenerate vitamins C and E – include dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and beef.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows thatÂ omega-3 fatty acidsÂ reduceÂ inflammation. This essential fatty acid when ingested is incorporated into our cells and structures and these chemicals control things like pain, sensitivity to pain, inflammation, swelling, and adema. (more natural joint pain remedies: Â jarretmorrow.com)
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty, oily, coldwater fish (salmon, trout, catfish, mackerel) and nuts (flaxseed and walnuts).Â Fish oil contains the most potent types of omega-3 fatty acids,Â eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are the omega-3 fatty acids thatÂ are immediately available to promote anti-inflammatory pathways. Fish oil can also be ingested as a supplement.
The natural chemical compound oleocanthal has been found to be have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that lead to painÂ relief. It is used as an ingredient in many anti-inflammatory treatments, and in fact, research hasÂ found this chemical compound to be as effective as ibuprofen prescribed for pain relief.
Oleocanthal is only found in extra-virgin olive oil, and is one of the many reasons why theÂ MediterraneanÂ diet has so many related health benefits.
What Not to Eat
Just as how it is important to eat foods that promote pain relief, it is important to discontinue the ingestion of foods that promote inflammation.
1. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids, similar to omega-3 fatty acids, are essential fats.Â Omega-6 fatty acids, however, promote pathways of inflammation.Â If the body uses an omega-6 fatty acid, it gets processed into the more inflammatory chemicals, as opposed to using an omega-3 fatty acid, which has the end products down stream being anti-inflammatory.
Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids include common cooking oils such as vegetable oils and corn oils.Â These cooking oils are often those used to prepare most processed and restaurant foods as well.
2. Trans Fats
Trans fats (or tans fatty acids) are best known for elevating levels of â€˜badâ€™ cholesterol while simultaneously lowering levels of the â€˜goodâ€™ cholesterol, but they also promote inflammation. These fats are found in fried foods, fast foods, and commercially baked or processed goods.
You Feel What You Eat
What you eat ends up having a lot to do with how you feel and how quickly you can recover from any type of injury. However, according to the Modern Health Blog, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to follow these nutrition practices to promote overall health, not just when in times of healing.