Nutrition and Recovery- You Really Are What You Eat
It may come as a surprise, but diet and nutrition are key components to conditions managed by physical therapy. Maintaining a balanced diet can directly affect the body’s physical function and promote faster recovery times.
A diet can encourage healing by giving your body the building blocks it needs to repair damaged tissue and provide the nutrients to build new, healthy tissue. When your body does not get the nutritional components it needs on a daily basis, it is left without the necessities to function properly, and recovery times increase. Complications of a poor diet that can negatively affect your condition being in Physical Therapy include things like widespread inflammation, obesity, and disease.
Building a nutritional plan is not within a physical therapist scope of practice, but it is important to understand the ways that diet can affect musculoskeletal conditions in order to help you get back to doing the things to love. The key of an ideal recovery diet? Focus on anti-inflammatory foods, eliminate those foods that increase inflammation all the while keeping those essential nutrients and minerals in play.
Inflammation is a part of the body’s immune system that helps signal injuries and damage to the body. When at normal levels, inflammation is a key component in the healing process, and is an essential step for the body to take soon after an injury. The problem with inflammation happens when it goes on for too long, and occurs in places where it is not needed. Prolonged and widespread inflammation make it harder for your body to heal an injury in the long run and also has been connected to heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS- THE GOOD GUYS!
With anti-inflammatory foods, it’s back to basics: fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. These may already be part of your health routine, but during recovery it’s important to focus on getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Great fruits and veggies include berries, broccoli and mushrooms. Healthy fats such as avocados, coconut and olive oil, flax and chia seeds as well as nuts are great sources to help keep inflammation in check. These foods are all high in the antioxidant properties will help that body reach its full healing potential.
However, watch out for eating excess fruits as they are high fructose, keep your intake to a few pieces a day. Additionally, not all vegetables are created equal. Some vegetables known as ‘nightshades’ (potatoes, peppers and tomatoes) have been linked to inflammation. Be sure to choose your vegetables wisely- choose leafy greens when in doubt.
THINGS YOU WANT TO AVOID
Eliminate the foods that are increasing inflammation and make the body’s job harder in the healing process. Foods that are high in sugars and processed have been known to increase the body’s inflammatory response. High sugar foods include things like candy and white bread. When you are injured, try to avoid that cheat dessert and maybe say no to the alcohol. Additionally, avoid the hot dogs and sausages, these foods can include chemicals that increase inflammation throughout the body. Finally, look out for common allergens like wheat or dairy, these should be consumed with caution.