Before pills, antibiotics, and therapies, how would someone heal better? If a hunter got injured in the forest, for instance, the hunter would have to rely on the resources available. Besides using plants for medicine, hunters would depend on diet for healing. To this day, food plays an integral part in the wound healing process.
How the body heals
An open wound means the body is missing the first line of defense: skin. Without skin, infections can happen. When wounded, the body gets to work to heal, healing in stages based on the degree of damage. Based on current health and weight, the healing process can be faster or slower. The body heals in steps, slowly reconstructing lost tissue.
Rebuilding step by step
The body has to work double-time to close a wound. The body needs to create new tissue as quickly as possible. Blood clots turn into scabs, which protect from infection while the work begins. New blood vessels begin to form. Now the much-needed red blood cells can fill the area to create collagen. Collagen is the foundation of the new tissue. Bit by bit, the new tissue reconstructs. Eventually, the scab falls off and forms new skin. The new skin will look different than the original, creating a scar.
How diet plays a part
If healing sounds like a lot of work, imagine the number of nutrients needed. The body reroutes vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to deal with the repair. This is often known as the catabolic phase. While healing is taking place, life still goes on. The nutrients from food still go to providing daily energy. That means a higher degree and quality of nutrients do the extra work of wound healing. Any deficiencies decline health and slow healing.
What you put in, you get out
What are the best food groups to heal? Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats combine to give wounds a fighting chance. Furthermore, foods should provide an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Getting zinc is also essential for speeding up healing.
Protein creates new cells, tissue, skin, and muscle. An additional 1-2 servings of protein provide the nutrients to build muscle and heal. Get high-quality protein like beef, chicken, and tuna. For vegan options, consider extra servings of broccoli, beans, tofu, or nut butter.
Extra fat helps absorb zinc and vitamins like A, D, and K. Fats help create cell membranes, which helps the creation of new tissue and skin. As fats can also be a source of energy, a little extra can supplement energy used for healing. Have some avocado with meals or try fish like tuna or salmon. Nuts, butter, and olive oil also provide a healthy source of fats.
Getting the right dose of glucose powers the cells for the tough job ahead. Healing requires more energy than usual. So eating quality carbohydrates aids the healing process. Carbs also help with tissue growth. Get a serving of good carbs like brown rice or sweet potatoes. Fruits like mangoes, oranges, and papaya provide healthy carbs and vitamins A and C, which are essential for fighting infections.
Avoid these foods during the healing process
As high-quality nutrition is key to wound healing, bad foods can really cause damage. Processed foods have empty calories with fewer nutrients than what’s needed for recovery. Avoid sodas, sweets, and alcohol, which damage the catabolic phase.
Diets should help, not replace wound care
An excellent diet accelerates healing. While that’s good news, don’t solely depend on eating for recovery. Based on the type of wound, infections can create a serious long-term problem. Patients need proper wound care as well to increase the chances of success. Try a balanced diet of whole foods, and seek a doctor or nutritionist for diet advice.