Preventing and dealing with injury from the inside out
When you’re dealing with sprains, breaks, cuts and inflammation, nutrition isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. And yet your body needs more nutrients than ever at this time to provide raw materials and co-factors for its immediate response to injury, and for the entire wound healing process.
Not only that, but certain foods and diet styles can contribute to long term inflammation and make it harder for your body to heal itself. So you may want to keep this article in your first aid kit alongside your bandages and plasters, to remind yourself that injuries have a better chance of healing quickly and thoroughly with the right approach to diet.
I was impressed recently with a friend who changed his diet in response to breaking his leg quite badly in a road traffic accident. The speed of his recovery was surprising to his health professionals – but not to me, as his approach made perfect sense. His commitment to literally getting back on his feet again inspired him to give his body plenty of protein, vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients, and to avoid anything that would get in the way of healing his wounds and making healthy new tissue.
In fact, with a diet that is supportive of your tendons, muscles, bones and other tissue, you may be less likely to injure yourself in the first place – be it from sports injuries, repetitive strain injury or breaks resulting from weakened bones.
The most important place to start is with hydration. One of the main components of cartilage, tendons and other types of connective tissue is ground substance, a gel-like fluid that has the capacity to hold an incredible amount of water. If this ground substance is well hydrated, then the tissue is less likely to damage easily, is able to clear debris and inflammation much more easily, and is also able to get the nutrients and materials required to make healthy new tissue to the right place.
Hydration starts with drinking good levels of good quality water, but also involves a number of other factors, such as how stressed you are and your levels of other nutrients. Good levels of magnesium and potassium are crucial here, and require at the very least a high vegetable intake. Magnesium is also necessary, alongside good oxygen levels and co-enzyme Q10, in making energy from the food you eat to fuel the whole process of getting better.
A high quota of vegetables will also ensure a broad spectrum of other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients necessary for healthy tissue and wound healing, as well as helping to keep your pH level in balance. If your diet is too acidic, your body may choose to dump the excess acidity into your tissues and joints instead of water – with the result that your cartilage, tendons and other connective tissues become brittle, dry and sometimes damaged and painful. This is not the way to prevent or heal injury!
It is therefore also good to avoid an acidic diet, so you should consider keeping sweets, fizzy drinks, caffeine, alcohol, highly processed foods and convenience foods to a minimum. Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, nuts, seeds and pulses are also acid-forming, but should not be avoided as proteins are essential as building blocks for healthy new tissue, as well as for making hormones and enzymes that trigger wound healing and general turnover of tissue cells.
Once the body has gone through the necessary process of inflammation, which kick starts injury healing, it may need help to calm down again to avoid long term pain and aggravation. Instead of turning straight to anti-inflammatory medication for this, you may be interested to explore effective natural anti-inflammatories. Zinc and omega 3 oils are among the best here, and both are also required, along with vitamin C, to make healthy new connective tissue. Aloe vera can also be useful, both internally and as an external compress.
This is a brief glimpse of how we can influence tissue health and wound healing with diet. For a more personalised approach, contact me for an appointment,