Is your Diet Affecting your Ability to Heal?

we’re forgetting something

Dealing with chronic pain or an injury to your body can be difficult. Most people are aware of the common strategies to help them feel better. You may be resting, using ice or heat and even using medications. One aspect that most people do not consider is how their diet affecting their healing. 

During the process of healing, one common thought is that “I am not as active and the energy demand on my body is less”. What most people do not consider is the energy that it takes to heal the body. Inflammation is common in both acute and chronic injuries and pain. Having sufficient energy, protein, vitamins and minerals will help the healing process. 

During the healing process consuming food and drinks that have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties can assist your healing. Inflammation is the body’s response to infection and tissue damage. If inflammation increases beyond a healthy level, then tissue damage can occur. Anti-inflammatories can be used to control inflammation. If chronic inflammation is present, your immune system can start to attack healthy tissue that can increase your risk of disease such as diabetes and heart disease. Oxidants can damage cells by causing chemical chain reactions. Anti-oxidants protect your cells from free radicals that can lead to disease. 

food slowing the healing process

So, what are some of the foods and beverages that will hinder your healing process. Aspartame is one of the primary ingredients that will decrease your ability to heal. This substance is considered a cytotoxin that can be destructive to your cells. Aspartame is commonly found in carbonated soft drinks and tabletop sweeteners. Sugar is another ingredient that should be avoided. Sugar can cause narrowing to blood vessels which can decrease blood flow to surgical wounds. Sugar can also decrease immune function which can increase inflammation in the body. Alcohol is another substance to avoid. The ethanol that is in alcohol can promote muscle loss. 

so what should i be eating?

Conversely, there are foods, vitamins and minerals that people can consume that have natural anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Turmeric comes from the root of Curcumin and can be found in spices as it is from the ginger family. A mineral that can be beneficial is magnesium which has the ability to relax muscles which can assist in pain modulation. Foods can also contain anti-inflammatories and natural pain modulators that assist in the healing process. Ginger, pineapple, tart cherries, red grapes, extra virgin olive oil, fish oil and salmon are just some examples. 

In summary, during the healing process it is important to maintain your energy level with foods that have anti-inflammatory properties or are rich in anti-oxidants. Fruits, vegetables, well sourced animal products along with properly prepared nuts and beans are good basis to start with in the healing process. 

Written by:

Molly Mikles
PT, DPT

Written by:

Molly Mikles
PT, DPT