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Nutrition Plays a Role in Healing

Nutrition Plays a Role in Healing

At the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith, we take a holistic approach to injury recovery and recognize that nutrition plays a role in healing.  Many of our clients ultimately undergo surgery, which brings surgical wound healing into the recovery picture. The body needs protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins, and proper hydration for optimal healing.  

Often our clients are worried about consuming too many calories during surgical recovery since they will be more inactive and concerned about weight gain.  However, it is not the time to worry about that, as healing takes nourishment and burns more calories than usual, even with physical inactivity. Putting the focus on nutrient-dense foods can aid the recovery process.  

Drinking plenty of water is incredibly important.  Recovery requires proper hydration, and depending on what types of medications have been prescribed, even more than the recommended 64 ounces of water per day may be necessary. The key is not waiting until thirst is felt, as, by that point, you are already dehydrated.  Keep a bottle full of cool water, or a diluted sports drink within arm’s reach and sip often.

What types of food should an injured person be eating?  It makes sense to consume a variety of colorful foods in order to obtain all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the body needs for cellular repair. Healing bodies require more calcium and protein. Consider adding a multi-vitamin for good measure.  Try to the intake of junk food so that most of your calories are higher in nutritional value.  Below are some examples of the types of food a healing body needs:

Helpful, Healing Nutrients
  • Protein:  Protein aids in healing, tissue repair, and re-growth.  Some protein-rich foods are: poultry, meat, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, legumes (beans such as black or kidney beans, lentils, garbanzos), soy products, nuts, and seeds 
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs provide energy for healing and prevent protein and muscle breakdown.  Some healthy carbohydrate choices are: fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), whole-grain bread, rice, cereal, pasta
  • Fats: Fats are necessary to absorb certain vitamins.  They also provide energy and aid in the immune response.  Healthy fats:  olive for sunflower oil, seeds, nuts, avocado, butter, salad dressings (with oil). 
  • Calcium: Calcium helps to maintain bone density and is required for proper muscle contraction.  Calcium sources include leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens, milk, cheese, yogurt, soy products, broccoli, and almonds.
  • Iron: Iron is needed to form hemoglobin and transport oxygen.  Some iron-rich foods: lean red meat, liver,  fish, poultry, fortified cereals, legumes, dried fruits, dark leafy greens.  Iron-rich foods should be consumed with foods rich in Vitamin C. 
  • Zinc: Zinc is essential for wound healing.  It can be found in oysters and other seafood, eggs, liver, and meats.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is vital for skin maintenance and wound healing.  It can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, egg yolk, spinach, and other leafy greens, broccoli, milk, cheese, and liver.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption and bone healing.  It can be found in butter, margarine, fortified milk,  fortified cereals, fatty fish such as salmon, egg yolk, and liver.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that boosts immunity (NOTE: Do NOT take Vitamin E supplements before surgery). Food sources containing Vitamin E include vegetable oils, milk, eggs, butter, beef liver, fortified cereals, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin K: Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and aids wound healing.  It can be found in fatty fish, liver, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for healing.  It is abundant within strawberries, citrus fruits, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, melons, greens, and raw cabbage.

The following video discusses Vitamins A, B, C and D and why they are essential for the human body.

Plan Ahead for Post-surgical Nutrition

If you are facing a post-operative recovery with limited mobility, plan ahead to make it easier to meet your nutritional needs.  Before surgery, stock up on hydrating liquids, low-preparation meals, and healthy snacks. Make-ahead meals that are easy to freeze into individual portions include soups and casseroles.   Be sure to have fruits as well as protein-rich snacks on hand, such as hard-boiled eggs or canned tuna.

Of course, it never hurts to collect a variety of take-out menus from your favorite local restaurants, as meal delivery services are so abundant now.  You are healing after all, and an occasional treat meal could be just what the doctor ordered.  Sometimes a delicious meal provides just the kind of comfort that a healing patient needs.

Picture: Image by free photos by pixabay

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