Following a well-balanced diet based on whole foods from nature (or foods made from whole ingredients) that are minimally processed is the ideal nutritional strategy for healing from an injury.
Of course, even the healthiest foods can only do so much. In addition to adjusting your diet, make sure you speak to a qualified physician for guidance on how to take care of your injury.
Ready to get back in the action? Here are five superfoods that you should incorporate into your healing regimen:
1. Lean Meats
When you’re injured, you’re not going to be using your muscles as much as usual, so they can lose mass and strength. During your recovery period, your nutritional needs are very much like those for any athlete desiring muscle growth, which means loading your diet full of protein-rich sources to help build muscle.
Eating meat and other protein-rich foods can help offset muscle decline caused by immobilization. Besides helping to repair muscles, protein-rich foods also help your body to heal broken bones.
Because red meat can cause inflammation, you should stick with lean meats. Seafood is a fantastic choice, especially fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, which are all high-protein foods with anti-inflammatory properties.
Here are some other healthy protein sources:
- Fortified Cereals
2. Fruits and Veggies
It’s no surprise that sports injuries usually cause inflammation. Inflammation is when your immune system sends white blood cells to protect the injured area, usually causing redness, soreness, and swelling.
In order to keep low-grade inflammation from spreading throughout the body and turning into a bigger problem, experts recommend eating anti-inflammatory foods that help to prevent oxidative stress that can lead to negative chronic inflammation. Fortunately, many of the healthiest foods — fruits and veggies, especially — also happen to be anti-inflammatory already.
Other anti-inflammatory food options include:
- Whole Grains
- Green Tea
- Olive Oil
- Fatty Fish
3. Whole Grains and Legumes
While you’re out of commission, it’s all too easy to put on weight. As an athlete, that’s not ideal! Although eating healthy foods is important, you don’t want to overeat. Because they take longer to digest, whole grains, legumes, and other fiber-rich foods help you to eat less and still feel satisfied for longer.
On average, men should consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber daily, and women should shoot for 21 to 25 grams. If you find that you’re frequently hungry after you eat, you should incorporate more fiber into your diet — whether you’re injured or not. Of course, while you’re in recovery, you should aim to consume even more fiber than usual.
Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious fiber-rich foods, so you shouldn’t have to sacrifice good eating. Whole grains and legumes are your best bet, but feel free to diversify your meals with some of these other fiber-rich foods:
- Dark-Colored Veggies
- Fruits (Especially Apples, Bananas, Strawberries, and Oranges)
When you’re injured, it’s important to load up on vitamin C. Vitamin C aids your body in the production of collagen, an essential protein that plays a major role in the healing process. Collagen keeps your bones, muscles, tendons, organs, blood vessels, tissues, skin, and other vital body parts healthy.
Only 10 to 20 percent of adults get the recommended nine servings of fruits and veggies daily, so if you don’t eat a lot of them, you might want to take a supplement. Citrus foods are famous for being packed with vitamin C, so stock up on orange juice (ideally with calcium).
Here are some other vitamin C-rich foods to incorporate into your recovery diet:
- Peppers (Red, Green, or Yellow)
- Sweet Potatoes
Eating for energy is important when you’re healing from an injury. Even if you’re spending most of your time on the couch, your body needs energy to repair itself. Boosting your energy levels is also so helpful when you need to do physical therapy exercises or motivate yourself to get active again.
Bananas are one of the best energy-producing foods because they contain vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, and carbs. In addition to providing much-needed energy, the potassium encourages healthier bones and better muscle function.
Here are some other foods that you can eat to keep your energy levels up:
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potatoes
- Dark Chocolate
Keep It Natural
Now that you know which foods to seek out, you might be wondering which foods to avoid. To put it simply, stay away from processed foods. While you’re recovering, your goal is to eat simple, straightforward meals made from quality ingredients. If it contains more than a few ingredients — especially ingredients you don’t recognize — avoid it!
Even though you’re injured, try not to give in to the temptation to order delivery, unless you’re getting a salad or something simple and straightforward made with whole ingredients. Restaurant food tends to be loaded with unhealthy ingredients. When preparing meals, consider making large batches so you have a convenient snack or meal ready when hunger strikes.
Getting injured is never ideal, but try to look at the bright side — this is a chance to reevaluate your diet and embrace positive dietary habits that can last a lifetime. Discover some new foods, and incorporate them into your
Isabella Koretz, the founder & CEO of Pearl Recovery Retreat and Ciel Spa, has been an entrepreneur and businesswoman for over a decade. Her experience in the healthcare industry is vast and she understands both the medical professional and patient side of the industry. While her professional endeavors are extensive, she is most proud of her role as a loving wife and a mother of two beautiful children..