When you are injured it is easy to focus on all the tasks/activities you cannot do. It is also sometimes difficult to find time and energy to do all the things you should be doing (like the prescribed exercises from the physio). Nutrition is overlooked often in the healing process, even though it is fuelling your recovery. Depending on your stage of recovery and type/severity of injury, different fuel sources and nutrients will be necessary for a speedy recovery.
Immediately following injury, the body goes into crisis control, doing what is necessary to stop bleeding, minimise severity of injury and remove the damaged tissue/cells. During this phase, your nutrient requirement is higher than when performing as an athlete. The body’s choice of fuel during this phase is fats, followed by protein. For this reason, don’t be afraid to maintain your usual nutrient intake, if not increase it… ensuring approximately 25% is allocated to protein intake (as well as poly/mono- unsaturated “healthy” fats).
At this point I will point out that taking anti-inflammatories as soon as you sustain an injury can prolong this early stage of healing by slowing down the swelling that will break down and remove debris. Panadol is a much better pharmaceutical choice for pain management in these early days. Alternatively check out (https://performancemedicine.com.au/whole-foods-and-pain/) for information on whole foods and pain, as well as consider other pain management strategies such as ice/heat, compression and modifying load.
This phase requires collagen to create a template for cell replenishment, filling the space where the damaged cells used to be. Over the next days to weeks the new cells will be placed within the collagen matrix. During the end of this phase loading the tissue is important to ensure the new cells create strong bonds with each other, specifically in the direction that load, and force is likely to occur in the future.
Oh, I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a list of nutrients that can aid your body as it goes through the healing process:
And for specific types of injuries, there may be specific healing requirements, such as:
Sports Dietitians are a great resource when managing an injury, acute or chronic. In the meantime, stock up on some yummy nuts, seeds, chickpeas, vegetables, eggs, cheese and yoghurt.
All this food talk has got me craving a very Melburnian smashed avocado and poached eggs on whole grain toast with hummus, feta and rocket… and maybe even a turmeric latte! What about you?!