This article was originally published in the Massachusetts Senior Games Summer Edition 2018-2019.
You can accelerate your healing process with food and beverage. Food provides the necessary nutrients to help your body’s one trillion cells recover. No matter what kind of injury or illness you are facing, what and how you eat and drink will determine the course of your physical mending.
One of the most common risk factors associated with injury is age. The older you get, the more wear and tear on your injury. If left untreated, joints can degenerate, which is commonly called osteoarthritis. It normally begins with age fifty for most people. It can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
Being overweight is another risk factor. Your body frame can support only so much weight. When you exceed that weight, your body is bearing a weight for which it simply was not designed. Excess weight stresses the areas that hold you up, like your ankles, knees, hips, and back. Losing that excessive weight takes pressure off your knees, and fewer injuries will occur because of it. According to a research published in the Journal of Pain, people with excess BMI (body mass index) greater than 30 have four times the risk of developing osteoarthritis than those who are at a healthy weight. Every pound of excess body weight puts approximately five pounds of pressure on your knee, so even five to ten extra pounds places a burden on you. Maintaining an appropriate weight is one of the best things that you can do for avoiding injuries.
Eating right helps
It is not a secret that eating healthy helps to make and keep your muscles stronger. It also helps injured muscles get stronger more quickly. You don’t need a special diet to make your muscles stronger. Protein is the new king. Diet books tell you that you can lose weight by eating more meat, fish, soy, or black beans. They say more protein keeps you metabolically fit. Eating enough protein-rich foods of low energy density is a good strategy for increasing satiety. But eating more protein than your body needs is not going to boost your metabolism, build more muscle, or make you thinner, but will make you gain weight. Eating a balanced diet provides all the energy you need to go through your day. Keep in mind that irritation or inflammation of a joint, muscle, or tendon can slow down the healing process of the area.
Some foods aid specifically in the healing of the tendons, just like exercise or massage. Foods that have high active enzymes can provide a jolt that the tendons need and help them with the healing process. Examples of these superfoods are pineapple and papaya. These two foods have specific enzymes (called bromelain and papain) that are very active in the bloodstream and can contribute to helping the body heal the injured tendon more quickly. Other vitamins and minerals that can contribute to improving tendon health is vitamin B6, manganese, and zinc.
Another important food contributor that aids in healing is any food that has vitamin C in it. The reason why vitamin C is so great is that it helps with the production of collagen, which is the most abundant in the tissue of a tendon. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins do not get stored in the body for long – they soon get expelled through urine. Therefore, water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble ones. Good sources include: citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and their juices, kiwi, strawberries, mangoes, papaya, red, yellow and green peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and raw dark leafy vegetables. It also helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps gums healthy.
This great antioxidant can help reduce inflammation. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and having too much of it can become toxic, so please don’t overdo it. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fat tissues of our bodies, as well as the liver. Fat-soluble vitamins are easier to store than water-soluble ones and can stay in the body as reserves for days, some of them for months. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of fats (lipids). It is best to take vitamin E in food rather than a supplement. Vitamin E works together with Vitamin C to create the formation of collagen. Good sources include: kiwi fruit, almonds, avocado, eggs, milk, nuts, leafy green vegetables, unheated vegetable oils, wheat germ, and whole grains.
Arnica has been proven to help treat tendon and joint pain. It is normally applied and rubbed into the injured area in the form of an oil. Arnica has shown to decrease swelling and inflammation and can reduce the amount of time it takes for the injury to recover. Rue is another herbal remedy that can be used to relieve pain related to your tendonitis and other muscle injuries. An anti-inflammatory component in rue has been shown to strengthen the capillaries in the body.
Sugar increases Inflammation
High blood sugar can increase inflammation. Even some juices can make injuries heal more slowly. Fruit juices are very high in sugar. Vegetable juices, especially cold juicing, are a better alternative. This preserves the active enzymes found in the vegetables and still provides the concentrated nutrients.
Mild to moderate dehydration can delay wound healing in many ways. A warm, damp environment is ideal for the growth of new tissue, and a lack of moisture to the affected area can halt cellular development and migration. Additionally, as dehydration reduces blood flow throughout the body, it has the capacity to starve the wound bed of white blood cells that protect against infection. Our suggestion: drinking a lot of water (minimum of 8 cups per day).
Make sure to check with your doctor or your dietitian before starting any regimen of healing.