KEY NUTRIENTS FOR TISSUE HEALING
• Focus on arginine rich foods
The amino acid arginine is abundant in the structure
of collagen, and increases its tensile strength. It also
helps enhance immune system activity and aids wound
healing through microvascular changes. Best food
sources: nuts, seafood, wheat germ, seeds, cottage
• Eat Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C is required to make collagen, one of the main
structural components of skin, muscles and bone. Best
food sources: red peppers, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, broccoli,
• Eat Zinc rich foods
Zinc is needed for cell replication and to make protein.
Best food sources: shellfish, pumpkin seeds, sesame
seeds, sea vegetables and spinach.
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• Eat Vitamin A rich foods
Vitamin A promotes collagen cross-linking and tissue
and bone cell development making wound healing
stronger. Best food sources: carrots, calves liver, spinach,
squash, sweet potatoes, bell peppers (in fact all
yellow/orange fruit and vegetables).
• Eat Calcium rich foods
Calcium is an important mineral for bone structure and
deficiencies are associated with increased skeletal
weakness. Best food sources: green leafy vegetables,
canned sardines, mackerel or salmon (flesh & bone),
tofu, nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried figs
as well as dairy.
• Eat Vitamin D rich foods
Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium and a
deficiency will reduce the amount of calcium that can
be absorbed for bone heaing. Best sources: salmon,
cod, prawns, milk and eggs plus you make it from
Research has shown that good nutrition facilitates the
healing process and can help reduce inflammation,
whereas malnutrition at any level can delay, inhibit or
complicate the process. Nutritional support is therefore
fundamental to a speedy recovery.
So whether you need to repair muscles or bones or
minimise inflammation and pain you can make a positive
difference to your recovery by ensuring that you are
eating the right foods.
INFLAMMATION AND THE ROLE OF NUTRITION
Inflammation is defined as a localised reaction of tissue to irritation,
injury, or infection. Symptoms of inflammation include pain, swelling,
redness or heat and sometimes loss of movement or function.
Controlling inflammation through diet:
You may be familiar with the idea of anti-inflammatory medications,
but have you heard of anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients? Yes
itís true; the foods you eat can have a profound effect on the
inflammatory response in the body:
• Increase consumption of oily fish
Oily fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon are a major
source of EPA and DHA, important omega 3 fatty acids. These
substances are used in the body to produce anti-inflammatory
prostaglandins that reduce the inflammatory response. Eat oily fish
at least twice a week, preferably 3 times or more.
• Add flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) to your diet daily
Flaxseed contains ALA, another omega 3 fatty acid with an antiinflammatory
effect. Consume at least 1 tbsp of flaxseed oil each
day, plus add crushed, ground or milled flaxseeds to your breakfast
cereals or smoothies. Note: flaxseed oil is highly perishable so it
should always be fresh, refrigerated and never heated.
• Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
Eat berries (cherries, blueberries, blackberries) or any blue/red
fruit or vegetables as these foods are rich in proanthocyanidins a
substance can help to neutralise inflammation and also supports
the collagen structures of joints. Add a portion to your diet every
day, such as fresh or frozen berries added to cereals or plain yoghurt.
• Add curcumin (tumeric) to your food
This yellow spice inhibits the production of inflammatory compounds
and enhances the bodyís own anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It can
easily be added to a wide range of savory dishes such as soups and
stews and is found in many curry dishes.
• Add ginger to your food
Another spice that inhibits the production of inflammatory compounds,
it also has powerful antioxidant action and contains a compound
that breaks down fibrin (which promotes swelling). Incorporate about
a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger into your diet every day. This can be
included in fresh juices or can be finely chopped / grated and added
to a wide variety of savoury dishes.
• Add rosemary to your meals
This herb contains a phytonutrient called carnosol, which has
been shown in research to reduce inflammatory compounds.
This is an enzyme found in pineapple, which has long been valued
for its effectiveness in reducing inflammation. This can also be bought
as a supplement.
• Decrease consumption of animal foods (both meat and dairy)
Arachidonic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid that is only found in
animal foods. In the body this produces pro-inflammatory compounds.
By decreasing consumption of these foods you will reduce the
production of arachidonic acid and hence will reduce inflammation.
• Decrease consumption of trans, hydrogenated and partially
These are the worst type of fat and contain toxic chemicals and free
oxidising radicals, which lower immunity and encourage inflammation.
These fats are commonly found in baked and fried ready prepared
and packaged foods such as cakes, biscuits, many margarines, and
chips or crisps.
• Reduce sugary foods and refined carbohyrates
All sugary foods and white carbohydrates turn into glucose very
quickly, raising blood sugar levels. Insulin is released whenever there
is too much glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. There is a strong
link between high insulin levels and inflammation. So it is important
to avoid sugary foods or refined foods (white processed carbohydrates,
white rice, white bread and white pasta)
KEY NUTRIENTS TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION
Several nutrients are particularly effective in quenching inflammation
in the body, so boost your intake of the foods associated with these
nutrients: Best food sources: nuts, seafood, wheat germ, seeds, cottage
• Vitamin E: an important antioxidant that helps to prevent freeradical
damage in the body, which reduces inflammation. Best food
sources: olive oil, olives, avocado, nuts (particularly almonds) and
seeds (particularly sunflower seeds).
• Vitamin C: another key antioxidant with inflammation quenching
action. Best food sources: red peppers, berries, kiwi, citrus, broccoli
and most other fruit and vegetables.
• Vitamin D: reduces inflammatory compounds such as C-reactive
protein. Best food sources: salmon, cod, prawns, milk and eggs
plus you make it from sunshine.
• Quercetin: a flavonoid that neutralises several different inflammatory
reactions. Best food sources: cabbage, onions, broccoli, squash, red
grapes, pears, apples.
TISSUE HEALING AND THE ROLE OF NUTRITION
Healing any type of tissue damage (bone or muscle), whether from
accidental injury or surgery involves a large number of biochemical
and cellular reactions that are all dependant on a range of different
nutrients. In fact to provide the necessary building blocks to repair
tissue damage, the body has a much higher metabolic demand for
nutrients than normal.
Promoting tissue healing through diet:
• Ensure that you are eating adequate quantities of protein
Protein provides the main building blocks for tissue regeneration and
repair. Which means even short periods of low protein intake can
result in significantly delayed wound healing. Research has shown
that people who have undergone major surgery or trauma have an
increased requirement for protein. Include sources of good quality
protein into every meal and snack (including breakfast). Foods such
as fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses are all good protein
sources. Vegetarians need to be particularly aware that they are
getting an adequate level of complete proteins.