I have a patient who recently asked me about foods she could eat to help her “heal faster” after her knee replacement surgery. Although I am not an expert in nutrition, I decided to do a bit of research for her and thought I would share my findings. The process of healing is multi faceted- activity, medication, emotional stresses, age etc etc along with diet all play a role. All factors are important and should be considered when healing. However, for now I will just graze the surface of how diet can help aid the healing process and foods which may prove to be beneficial.
Currently, there is little research available on humans and the nutrients which help with healing after a surgery or injury- the majority of the studies seem to be on animals. However, it is clear that certain foods and nutrients will help in the healing process after an injury or surgery. It is also clear that the nutrients you ingest before surgery (approx. 2 weeks) are as important in the healing process as those after the surgery.
Through animal studies, the nutrients that show the greatest effect on the healing process are vitamin C, flavonoids, vitamin A, protein, and zinc. These nutrients play a very important role in forming collagen (a protein crucial for connective tissue repair), promoting circulation and protein synthesis which are all necessary components of the healing process.
So… where does one get these nutrients from? We don’t have “zinc” as a meal. These nutrients are found in common foods. I have included some examples below:
Vitamin C and flavonoids: broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, oranges and berries.
Vitamin A: dairy products, carrots, sweet potato and eggs
Zinc: red meats, spinach, crumbly cheeses, nuts and seeds.
In addition to the nutrients listed above, research has recently shown that a secret weapon to healing is a proper intake of fiber. Fiber helps keep a digestive tract healthy, which means nutrients are better absorbed and digested. Whole grains, raspberries, nuts and beans are good sources of fiber and should be incorporated into a “healing” diet.
If you have a surgery coming up, are recovering from injury or would like to discuss how to stay healthy, contact us at email@example.com.