After an injury occurs, patients trust that a physical therapist is working quickly to design a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that will produce optimal recovery in the shortest time frame possible. A key factor that is often overlooked in aiding rehabilitation is nutrition. Research continues to emerge as to how nutrition is a necessary component that needs to be a part of a recovery plan, especially one that requires physical rehabilitation. Optimal nutrition can play a key role in controlling pain and inflammation, rebuilding injured tissue, helping with autoimmune diseases and obesity, and supporting strength preservation.
The Power of Nutrition
There is a misconception that eating carbohydrates will make you gain weight. However, carbohydrates are known to be one of the best nutrients for fueling your body and building energy prior to exercise. The important thing to be aware of is what types of carbohydrates have the nutritional value you need. Not all carbohydrates are created equal, so consuming the right kind of carbs will prepare your muscles to rebuild mass faster.
While eating carbs prior to exercise is necessary to prepare your body, it’s key to balance other nutrients throughout the day. Ensuring you consume enough lean protein is also essential, so it’s important to eat less red meat and more chicken and fish. It’s also important to consume fruits and green vegetables that boost your fiber; however, avoid eating too much fiber before working out. Staying hydrated also helps these nutrients to reach the far corners of your body.
Essential Vitamins and Nutrients
Here are just some of essential nutrients that help heal the body during the recovery process:
Vitamin C helps grow and repair tissue in the body, and helps in the production of collagen, a protein that is the main component of connective tissues. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds, which is particularly useful after surgery. It also assists in repairing and maintaining healthy bones. Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, red bell and chili peppers, kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
Vitamin A aids in cell reproduction, which is a key component in wound healing. It also helps reduce the risk of infection. Since the body naturally stores Vitamin A, it’s important not to overdo it. Good sources of Vitamin A include liver, salmon, and eggs.
Zinc benefits the body by helping to maintain the structural integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. It also strengthens the immune system and helps in cell division, which is how new tissue is created. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, shrimp, spinach, and cashews.
Protein provides the necessary building blocks to repair tissue and muscle. These building blocks also help fight infection and help in collagen formation. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Vegetarians can dine on beans, lentils, and soy for their protein needs.
Staying hydrated is essential for the healing process. Fluids lubricate joints, help deliver oxygen to muscles, and remove waste from the body.
What to avoid
In addition to adding key nutrients to your diet, there are certain foods you should avoid. You should limit your intake of refined sugars as they cause inflammation in your tissues and fatigue due to the fluctuations in blood sugar. Avoid processed food as much as possible as they tend to be high in not only sugar, but fat, sodium, and chemical additives, which can all increase inflammation.
South Coast Post Acute is the Best Choice for Rehabilitation
South Coast Post Acute is a 5-star rated Medicare facility and private healthcare community in Southern California. For over 40 years, we’ve provided first-class service that emphasizes a high level of compassion and spirit. When you enroll into our facility you won’t be treated as just a patient, you’ll be treated like family. With a wide range of health services, our team of professionals are capable of helping you. Contact us today and learn how South Coast Post Acute’s staff can help you during your recovery.