The latest research shows the amazing properties of food, proper nutrition and other healthy lifestyle “pillars” as important components related to healing and injury recovery. The relationship of the body systems is one of interconnections; as one system impacts another. An emerging shift in healthcare is recognizing the value of natural influences that provide and support overall health, healing and wellness. Nowadays, we are inundated with advertisements which promise the power of a pill or pharmaceutical to reverse aging or to relieve pain and other symptoms. However, there are numerous reasons and benefits to consider food as a powerful and natural way to improve healing!
- Include more anti-inflammatory foods and spices in your diet- especially when dealing with chronic inflammation. Although after an acute injury or surgery, inflammation is critical for the repair process, too much inflammation can impede healing and cause additional damage. Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include dark colored berries, pomegranate seeds, leafy green vegetables, avocado, olive oil, tropical oils (unrefined, cold-pressed coconut and red palm), almonds, flaxseed, brazil nuts, salmon, mackerel, fish oil, tumeric→curcumin, garlic, ginger and cinnamon, dark chocolate
- Minimize or avoid “Pro-inflammatory” Foods → processed, “convenience” foods are typically high in saturated fats and refined sugars and flours, thereby contributing to the inflammatory process. As a general recommendation, avoid foods that come in a box or a can and stick to fresh foods. Avoid refined carbohydrates and added sugars (i.e. white pasta, white rice, most types of bread- unless 100% stoneground or sprouted grain, avoid corn syrup, salad dressings, vegetable oils, crackers, pretzels, instant breakfast cereals, cookies, muffins, cakes to name a few)
- Get a good balance of protein and carbohydrates to support recovery - aim for a balance of approximately 40% carbohydrates, 30 % protein and 30% healthy fats. Include lean protein choices such as beans, lentils, minimally processed meats, eggs, plant-based protein, nuts, nut butters and seeds and pea protein powder. Include whole grains and oats and a diverse mix of a “rainbow” of fruits and veggies. Limit eating out and aim to eat the majority of meals at home or prepared from home.
- Avoid high sugar drinks and sodas - Ideally choose water or naturally flavored water with fruit or cucumber slices, or mint. Drink green tea 2 times a day (avoid green tea extracts). Avoid sodas, including diet soda and high sugar fruit juice and lemonades. Limit caffeinated beverages.
- Get some shut eye - Getting an adequate amount of quality sleep is essential to injury recovery and optimal health and functioning. Try to stay consistent with sleep habits: prior to bed limit time spent in front of electronics, and aim to go to bed and wake on the weekends within an hour of the time you would during the week.
- Quit smoking! - Among the many reasons to quit smoking is the fact that smoking increases and interferes with the healing of bones and tissue. Surgeries such as rotator cuff repair as well as fractures take longer to heal in smokers and smokers have a higher rate of complications after surgery than non-smokers** (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 2016).