It doesn’t matter if you’re a superhuman weightlifter, a marathon runner or someone just trying to get to the gym 3-4 times a week. If you’re putting your body, muscles and joints under stress, then injury is bound to occur at some stage. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to wind up on a stretcher on your way to hospital, but sprained ankles, hairline fractures and a muscle or two out of place can indeed be expected from time to time.
While prevention is obviously the best course of action, sometimes these injuries are inevitable. And then what? Well taking a break from your training and getting appropriate rest is naturally a must, alongside activities such as icing, massage and compression depending on the injury.
However, there are certain tweaks and adjustments you can also make to your diet which can assist in actually speeding up your body’s ability to repair and heal your injury.
Your body is built to heal from the inside out and eating recovery foods are important in the healing of injuries. So, here are the best foods that will help provide you with the nutrients your body needs to get you back into your training routine before you know it!
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Such as: Citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, capsicum and broccoli
Vitamin C plays an important role in the healing process by building new protein for the skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. This means that instead of you body trying to do this all by itself, you’ll be giving it an extra helping hand by adding more of this nutrient into your diet, so it doesn’t take as long to get the job done.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that your body can’t produce by itself. This means you need to consume foods rich in Vitamin C on a daily basis in order to receive the benefits. Foods high in Vitamin C include, citrus fruits - such as oranges and grapefruit – kiwi fruits and vegetables like capsicum and broccoli. You can also speed up the process by taking a vitamin C supplement on a daily basis.
In addition to the healing properties, Vitamin C offers internal protection against free radical molecules in our bodies that can cause significant damage and come from our external environment, such as the foods we eat, high intensity work outs (like running), and chemicals we are exposed to.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Such as: Salmon, flax seeds, avocado, sardines and walnuts
Research has suggested that foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids can significantly decrease inflammation that occurs through injury, so much so that pharmaceuticals and other drugs may not be required.
If you’ve twisted an ankle or strained a muscle, chances are there will be some swelling around the area. To help reduce this consume foods such as salmon, flax seeds and walnuts, which could reduce pain in the affected area and promote healing.
Foods High in Protein
Such as: lean meat, eggs, tofu, nuts and unsweetened Greek yogurt
Protein should be thought of as the building blocks of your body, so when your body is trying to piece any torn ligaments or muscles back together, fuelling yourself with nutrient is absolutely vital.
Protein is required in multiple processes that take place as soon as an injury occurs, as well as throughout the duration of your recovery time. How quickly and how well the injury heals can largely depend on consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein, such as lean meats, Greek yogurt, nuts and eggs. This will give your body the materials it needs to build itself up much faster than if it were protein deficient.
Foods Containing Lots of Antioxidants
Such as: Blueberries, cherries, turmeric, ginger and prunes
When you’re suffering from an injury your body will likely contain more free radicals, otherwise known as toxins, roaming around your body. These inevitably make our bodies weaker by taking form our healthy cells, slowing down the healing process. By eating more antioxidants however, you can reduce the effect that these toxins will have on the body.
Foods like blueberries, strawberries and cherries help to control those free radicals, so our body can focus on repair, while ginger and turmeric are also highly effective at reducing inflammation which will aid in accelerating recovery.
Finally, for all you coffee fiends out there, you’ll be happy to know that coffee has been proven to not only decrease recovery time, but restore Central Nervous System function, so it can get back to making you better.
Food Rich in Zinc
Such as: Oysters, nuts, seeds and chicken
This often-overlooked nutrient is so critical in speeding up your recovery process, as every single tissue in your body contains it.
Yes, while Zinc isn’t exactly the nutrient de jour, it is absolutely vital in the healing process. As well as strengthening your tissue that may have been damaged by the injury, Zinc will help your body use the fats and proteins you consume to promote growth and healing of the injured tissue.
Zinc will also help keep your immune system strong, much like vitamin A, which will protect you from other infections or viruses, so you can stave off colds and flus which will only elongate your recovery time.
As you can see, while taking time of your training to rest and recuperate is necessary when injured, eating the right group of vitamins can really assist in speeding up the healing process. While recovery should never be rushed and you should always feel 100% before stepping back into the gym, focusing on your diet could help you get back in there that little bit faster!