Foods that Help Heal the Body

9September 2021

Eat a little bit; you will feel better.  Well that is exactly true.  There are foods and beverages that have been found that can help recover from an illness, injury, or surgery.  Their ability to promote immune functions, reduce inflammation, and fuel your body for its return to health can be found in a number of different sources.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, especially the darker ones, like spinach, arugula, mustard greens, and the dreaded kale are all high in Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, folate, and Provitamin A.  These nutrients help support immune function and general good health.  They also have polyphenols which may help suppress TNF- alpha proteins that cause inflammation.  Vitamin C has been shown to aid healing wounds.

Many physicians promote the increase in protein as part of a wound care regimen.  Each large egg will give you 6 grams of absorbable protein plus Vitamins A and B12, zinc, iron and selenium, all of which aid in maintaining a strong immune system.

Wild caught Salmon

Speaking of protein, only 3 ounces of wild-caught salmon will provide at least 70% of the daily required selenium, which is a mineral that helps regulate inflammation and immunity.  Salmon’s omega-3 fats may also help heal wounds.  This is in addition to the B vitamins, iron and zinc it provides.  If you are thinking of adding fish oil supplements, check with your surgeon and/or primary care physician.  Some studies indicate it may pose a threat for increased bleeding.

As part of your daily allotment of fruit, include berries.  They have lots of Vitamin C which produces collagen, an abundant body protein that promotes wound healing.  Their color comes from plant pigments that contain antioxidants including anthocyanins.

almonds

Nuts like almonds, pecans, and walnuts, as well as sunflower and hemp seeds can be great snacks and provide plant-based protein, zinc, manganese, and magnesium.  They also provide Vitamin E which is an antioxidant and helps protect against damage to cells.

Vegetables are always a good part of an eating plan.  To battle the fatigue that often accompanies injuries and illnesses, include the rainbow of carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and cabbage.  Carbs provide energy and helps prevent muscle breakdown.  Most are also a good source of fiber which can prevent the constipation that accompanies pain medications and less mobility.

Keep up with your eight glasses of water daily.  They hydration that you receive from fruits and vegetables are still not enough to ignore good, old water.

sugary drinks

Equally important is to know what to avoid.  This includes added sugars.  They may give  you a quick burst of power, bu they are of no nutritional value.  Plus bacteria and viruses love sugar.  Stay away from highly processed foods.  Especially if you live alone, it is tempting to grab something easy and that sounds good.  Anything white, sweet, and packaged will probably do little more than cause blood sugar spikes and higher insulin levels.  The last item is to avoid alcohol, which will slow blood clotting (not a good idea after surgery) and impairs the immune system.  Alcohol seldom pairs well with pain medication and can even be fatal.  Lastly, alcohol is actually a depressant rather than a stimulant and a good attitude is important when recuperating.

Follow medical orders regarding exercise.  If you are treated by more than one physician, check with all offices before beginning any new exercise regimen.  

During recuperation, don’t make any drastic changes in your eating plan without discussing it with your doctor or unless he or she recommends it.  Consult with a nutritionist if you have questions.  Mostly it is common sense, a balanced diet, and following the instructions you are given.

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