Foods that Heal – Eating for Injury Recovery
Article by Lucas Rockwood
Are you currently injured and looking for ways to help naturally speed up the healing process? If you’re healing from an injury, there are foods and nutrients that can accelerate your recovery. These foods fall into three categories: collagen-building foods, anti-inflammatory foods, and muscle-relaxing foods. I call these plus one foods.
On the flip side, there are what I call minus foods. These should be avoided as they contain neurotoxins which can potentially slow down the healing process. Armed with the right nutritional knowledge, you can give your body the nutrients it needs to synthesize and heal your tissues faster.
This guide is for educational purposes only. If you have a major injury, if you’re on medication, please don’t change your medication or make any decisions without consulting with your doctor.
Collagen-Building Foods. Collagen is the most-abundant protein in the body and is especially important when your body is recovering from injury. To give your body the nutrients it needs to synthesize and heal your tissues, below is a list of collagen building block nutrients.
- Protein – plant-based or animal proteins are great. Aim for 1 gram per pound of body weight, per day, when recovering from injury. For most people the easiest way to bump up their protein intake is with an extra high protein snack, meal, or shake.
- Zinc – pumpkin seeds, almonds, kale, eggs, seafood, and red meat are all high in zinc, which is a classic building block of protein.
- Copper – nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, shellfish, and organ meats are all good sources of copper.
- Sulfur – cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, chard, and broccoli, as well as allium vegetables like onions and garlic are excellent sources of sulfur. Meat, poultry, and seafood will also up your intake.
- Vitamin C – bell peppers, berries, broccoli, tomatoes, blackcurrants, and citrus fruits are particularly potent sources.
Anti-inflammatory Foods. Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, foods with natural inflammation-fighting properties don’t turn off your body’s healing response, instead they give your body the ability to turn off inflammation on its own.
- Omega-3 Oils – fish, fish oil, krill oil, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are rich sources.
- Curcumin – turmeric is the most naturally potent source of this micronutrient.
- Bromelain – fruits such as pineapple and papaya are excellent sources.
Muscle-relaxing Foods. When healing an injury, muscles in the surrounding area will often tense up in an attempt to protect and keep you safe. This can be uncomfortable when you’re trying to sleep, but magnesium can be very helpful to help relax those muscles. Magnesium is found most abundantly in leafy green plants, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Alcohol. Alcohol is a neurotoxin and your organs have to work hard to metabolize it, placing extra pressure on your body when it should be focused on healing.
Excess Sugar. Your body and brain love sugar, but only small amounts. Too much sugar can be neurotoxic, creating a cascading effect on your hormones, and causing inflammation throughout your body. So, try to reduce processed foods that contain lots of sugar.
Hyper-Processed Foods. Crackers, cookies, biscuits, and all the foods you usually find in the middle aisles at the supermarket fall into the highly processed category. Most concerning are processed fats and excess sugars, both of which can encourage inflammation. The same is true for deep fried foods.
Nutritional Supplement Options
Supplementation can be a simple way to boost the necessary nutrients quickly, when trying to heal an injury. In most cases, these are safe and affordable. The exception are omega-3 fats. Just like any oil, when choosing essential fatty acids, choose a top manufacturer to ensure quality.
- Zinc – 50mg
- Copper – 3mg
- MSM (for sulfur) – 1g
- Vitamin C – 500mg
- Omega-3 – 1g fish, krill, or algae oil
- Curcumin – 1g
- Magnesium – 300-400mg (taken at night)