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The road to recovery can often be long and arduous, and each person’s journey is different. Some bodies spring back faster, while others take time to heal. In our podcast on the Holistic and Functional Medicine model, we discussed a variety of reasons as to why patient journeys towards recovery can be so different. Factors like age, condition, diet, and even religion can impact the effectiveness of a recovery plan. So what can patients and therapists do?
We mentioned that one of the best strategies to take is to build a system of good habits. This system should always be adapted to individual needs and capabilities, with a focus on specific goals. While every approach is different, however, there are certain lifestyle changes that can help make recovery easier. One of these changes is, of course, diet. Below are a few of the nutrients you should be taking in in order to ensure that you’re giving your body the tools and fuel it needs to recover.
Nearly everyone knows that protein is important for maintaining your body at its peak condition. However, that’s not the only thing it can do. Protein is essential for muscle and tissue repair, which makes it all the more important during rest and recovery periods.
If you need ideas on what to integrate into your diet, the University of Michigan has a list of protein-rich foods, with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Meats, fish, and poultry are typical protein sources, but it can also be found in beans, tofu, and nuts. You can also choose to take protein supplements to boost healing.
Another thing your body is going to need is collagen. Collagen can aid in wound healing, speeding up the process of tissue repair and regeneration. It’s also vastly important for maintaining the health of your muscles, skin, bones, and tendons.
Collagen can be found in foods like fish, chicken, egg whites, and even citrus fruits. If you want a more concentrated source, you can also turn to a supplement like Brightcore’s Revive, which is a multi collagen protein powder. Composed of collagen types 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10, it’s also infused with vitamin C, which can aid in rebuilding tissue.
If there’s a nutrient that’s absolutely essential for healing and recovery, it’s zinc. Zinc plays a large role in nearly every phase of the wound healing process, from inflammation and immune defense to scar formation. Not getting enough zinc in your diet can actually delay wound healing and tissue regeneration, making the entire recovery process much longer.
Everyday Health recommends several zinc-rich food sources including seafood like oyster, crab, and lobster, as well as lean meats and chicken breast. For vegetarians or vegans, there are also options like mushrooms and kale. You can also find zinc in supplement form, in case you find these foods hard to access or consume.
Finally, if your injury recovery is centered on your joints, tendons, or cartilage, then you need to put more glucosamine in your diet. Although glucosamine is naturally produced by the human body, you can also increase your levels through food or supplements.
A good option for bringing up the glucosamine levels in your body is the Arazon Nutrition Joint Support Advanced Formulation supplement. It contains 1.5 grams of glucosamine and 1.2 grams of chondroitin per dosage. Chondroitin helps with cartilage elasticity, and can help prevent the breakdown of collagen, protecting your joints for longer.
While diet is foundational to a healthy body, it’s important to recognize that recovery is a many-layered process. The above nutrients, while essential for healing, aren’t cure-alls. Be sure to check in with your doctor or therapist before adding anything new into your diet.