So you’ve wrecked your back, twisted your knee, or undergone surgery – you have seen your local Physio and have plans for rehab but there’s something else that is really vital to support your body in healing as quickly as possible.
What You Eat & Drink.
We barely even stop to think that what we put in our mouths has a profound effect on all our body systems – especially regarding inflammation and tissue healing.
When you’ve sustained a painful injury or undergone a surgery it puts your body under both physical and emotional stress.
During a stressful incident the fight or flight hormone adrenaline will be released causing a cascade of effects on your bodies systems like a rapid release of blood glucose and a cascade of other hormones to deal with the downstream results.
This is all a natural response to the stress and happens automatically to try and get you out of harm’s way, before your body even begins to physically deal with the trauma.
Then the tissues themselves need to repair – the body has a beautifully intricate mechanism for this that we can support best by eliminating other stresses and providing optimal nutrients and elimination of the byproducts of inflammation for the best healing response.
What To Eat?
Plenty of fresh vegetables – at least 3 half cups a day of different vegetables, or triple that for leafy green salads.
Vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin c, zinc, magnesium and more, all essential components of bone and connective tissue.
Efficient proteins – our cells are made of amino acids, which are broken down from protein in our food. There are 12 essential amino acids which are required to rebuild cells, some of which can only be found in animal foods.
Eggs, poultry, red meats, fish and shellfish are all efficient proteins.
A serving size equivalent approximately to the size and thickness of your palm should be part of your meal 3 times a day.
Unsaturated fats are the building blocks for hormones. Our bodies production of endogenous (our own) endorphins, oxytocin, melatonin, cortisone, sex hormones, rely on access to good fats.
Think nut butters, olive, avocado, sesame, pumpkin seed oil, snacking on nuts and seeds.
Salted roasted cashews – yes please!
Additionally the chloride in salt assists your body to utilise the fats, and fats will help with constipation that can be a side effect of many of the strong painkillers (like codeine) you may need to take. So take a little salt with your fats.
Soluble fibre found in legumes, whole grains, and some fruits act like a rubbish bin, to which metabolic waste products like the hormones produced in stress responses get dumped instead of being recycled back into the bloodstream.
Injury, surgery, and any acute pain experience produce large amounts of adrenaline and other hormones involved in the fight or flight response that is our body’s natural response.
Many of these substances impair the tissue healing response and must be excreted as soon as possible after the trauma is over.
Your body dumps them from the bloodstream into the liver, and from there fibre provides the vehicle to pass these out of the body.
Think of your liver working like a big broom to gather all of these waste products and byproducts of inflammation, along with broken down medication and sweeping them into your bile.
Then think of soluble fibre as the rubbish bin with a tight lid that binds with all that waste to escort it out through your bowel for excretion.
Try to consume a side of legumes with each meal (or even more often if you want to).
Think bean salads, Indian Dal, Mexican refried beans, middle eastern hummus, bean, lentil, or barley soups. Legumes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, B vitamins including folate, essential in nerve repair, and are low GI, meaning they will not cause blood sugar instability.
Legumes are also great sources of many other trace minerals essential for health.
Psyllium is also a great source of soluble fibre that is readily available, it doesn’t contain any real nutrients other than fibre so we think beans are still better – but sprinkle on cereals or use it to thicken soups. You can also take it with plenty of water, but make sure to wash it down really well.
As a guide, half a cup of cooked beans contains about 5g of soluble fibre, as does 2 teaspoons of psyllium. Aim for at least 25-30g and up to 50g of soluble fibre per day.
Frequency is key, space your fibre in each meal through the day.
Dairy – fermented dairy products like yoghurt and soft white cheeses like feta are best for calcium absorption.
Drink plenty of fresh filtered water to assist your kidneys in excreting water soluble waste.
Traditional chinese and Ayurvedic medicine both recommend that water should be consumed warm to hot to support metabolism and other bodily systems.
Try sipping on warm or hot water instead of a hot caffeinated beverage – it can be addictive!
Aim for around 3 liters a day for an average adult body.
The average adult needs 56 hours of sleep a week. It doesn’t have to be sequential, if you are not sleeping well at night because of pain be sure to catch up at other times.
Quality sleep or rest is vital to healing. Your body will tell you – listen carefully.
What to avoid:
Sugary foods and drinks, including artificial sweeteners, are well documented to have a detrimental effect on tissue healing, including natural sweeteners like honey.
Empty carbohydrates – these displace the more nutritious foods mentioned above and can also cause blood sugar instability causing unnecessary hormonal stress
Foods high in saturated fats – these increase the inflammatory response and thus impair healing
Alcohol & Caffeine
All of these slow down the healing process, through either destabilising blood sugar levels, increasing adrenaline and stress hormone levels (stimulants) and inhibiting absorption of important nutrients.
This blog was written by Nicole Brammy from the City East Physio practice, to make a booking press the button that’s below.