Nutrition for injury
If you have an injury your body needs the right nutrients to be able to repair that injury and get stronger. Your bones, ligaments, soft tissue and muscle need to get stronger around the affected area and along with rehab work it’s important to eat the right food to aid recovery, and to stop muscle wastage.
Eating a similar daily protein amount to “muscle building” will help to maintain muscle mass.
You will also need to stay well hydrated and eat a micronutrient rich diet, this is essential to help repair scar tissue and improve immune function.
The most important sources for injury are vitamins C, E, D, B2 and A.
Also minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Also, a high intake of vegetables (green, root, cruciferous, and allium ones like garlic or onions), fruits, seeds, legumes, herbs (including herbal teas like green tea), and spices (turmeric, ginger) can provide the body with phytochemical compounds and antioxidants that help support the immune system, reduce inflammation, and minimise oxidative stress in the affected areas.
Fatty acids, in particular Omega 3 (flaxseeds, fish oils) and Omega 9 (avocados, olive oil), are anti-inflammatory and can help too.
Because we are not exercising and injured it’s easy to fall out of our regime. Losing our exercise regime can mean we stop thinking about healthy eating too, and start to fill our bodies with the foods we don’t normally eat. This isn’t going to help recovery and may make coming back to exercise harder.
When recovering from an injury there are things to avoid.
– trans fats (they’re pro-inflammatory),
– fried foods (the process of frying produces damaged fats that increase free-radical assault in cells, not ideal if we’re trying to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation)
– junk foods and sugary fatty foods (also pro-inflammatory),
– excess added sugars (by-products of sugar called AGEs accumulate in and out of cells, which increase oxidative damage and impair DNA repair; DNA repair is crucial when cells are replicating so fast during an injury, because fast cell replication increases the risk of erroneous DNA copies in cells, and we want new, healthy cells with as little mutations as possible!)
– overeating (the excess weight can worsen inflammation and slow down recovery)
– and alcohol (the detoxification of alcohol in the body depletes some of those crucial vitamins and antioxidants which we need for recovery, particularly C, A and B2, and calcium too – not ideal)
Your body will be working hard to recover from the injury and repair it. It’s very important to keep your nutrient intake on track. By providing the nutrients your body needs to repair the damage you may come back from injury sooner. If your body is fed CRAP (carbonated drinks, refined sugar, artificially flavoured and processed food) it will not have the tools to repair and get back on track. Your body will become sluggish and you will lose muscle mass and gain fat.
It’s important to also think about training again. The brain thinking about the actions of training once recovered can help to stimulate the muscles. It has been proven to activate muscles leading to a stimulation in the muscle just like when it is doing the action. This mental imagery can help you stay focused and increase stimulation to those muscles even when resting or completing rehab exercises.
This will also help you to eat right and feel more positive about your injury and coming back from injury to training.
So more detailed vitamin sources for C, E, D, B2 and A can be found below. Be sure to include lots of these in your meals.
Vit A – broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, carrots
Vit B2 – mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes
Vit C – peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, lemon
Vit D – salmon, eggs, cottage cheese, oysters, sardines
Vit E – tuna, salmon, sweet potato, peas