Do you have a wound that’s limping along on the path to healing? Did you know that what you ingest makes a difference? For injured tissues to knit together, they need certain nutrients.
In this post, I’ll share foods to help expedite tissue repair. You’ll also learn about the best supplements for wounds, such as Inflammenz, probiotics and whey protein. Picture your wound closing, and you’re partly there!
Wound Healing Nutrients: What you Need to Know
Wound Source reports that a non-healing wound requires three times the quantity of protein than usual. The recommended daily amount is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, to support mending, you should aim for 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram.
For instance, let’s hypothesize that you weigh 130 pounds. To convert your body weight to kilograms, divide it by 2.2. Dividing 130 by 2.2 equals 59.09 kilograms, which we’ll round to 60. Let’s also assume you’re recovering from surgery, with resultant incisions. The deep tissue tears need the greater quota of protein, 2 grams per kilogram. Multiplying 2 x 60 equals 120 grams of protein. This is your magic number.
The quality of protein is important, too. It should be lean and easily digested.
Have you heard of collagen? Collagen is a structural protein that creates a scaffold for skin. This protein plays an important role in wound healing. It helps promote the growth of new tissue at the wound site. Here you’ll find more information about collagen supplements.
Glucose supplies energy to macrophages, white blood cells that fight infection. Macrophages also produce growth factors to aid wound repair.
Your body needs fatty acids to fashion cell membranes and absorb Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Essential fatty acids are fats your body can’t manufacture. Examples are linoleic acid and linolenic acid, which control inflammation. It’s also vital to eat mostly unsaturated fat versus saturated. High saturated fat is present in whole milk, butter, cheese, and fatty cuts of meat.
Here are vitamins that aid in wound healing:
- Vitamin A – builds tissue through collagen cross-linkage and wards off infection
- Vitamin C – needed to produce collagen and new blood vessels
- Vitamin D – boosts immunity
- Vitamin E – prevents cellular damage and stabilizes cell membranes
- Vitamin K – normalizes blood clotting
Zinc seals wounds by making collagen and skin cells. It assists cell division and powers roughly 300 body enzymes. Zinc adds strength to dermal tissue and your immune system. It also supplies the energy to move cells across a wound bed.
Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme sourced from pineapple stems. Bromelain reduces swelling, pain, bruising, and healing time.
Superfoods for Wounds: What Foods Should you Eat to Promote Healing?
Containing all nine essential amino acids, eggs have “complete protein.” The whites are high in protein, and the yolks are rich in zinc.
Soy is a unique plant protein, containing all the essential amino acids. It also provides Vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. Many different forms of soy are available, such as milk, tofu, tempeh, and yogurt.
One caveat with soy is that 90 percent of US crops are genetically modified (GMO). Genetic engineering poses health risks. Mixing genes from unrelated species introduces new allergies into our food supply. Foreign genes can cause a new host to behave erratically. Scientists have linked over-expression of genes to diseases such as cancer.
GMO products are exposed to high volumes of antibiotics and pesticides. For example, in animal studies, contact with the herbicide Roundup causes reproductive damage, birth defects, and hormone disruption.
So, when shopping for soy products, look for evidence that they’re non-GMO. Organic Authority reports that four manufacturers are trustworthy in this regard. They are Eden Foods, Wildwood, Mitoku, and Tofurky. Here you’ll find other foods approved by the Non-GMO Project.
Are you familiar with this term? It’s a subgroup of the legume family. High-protein pulses are black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils. If you combine them with grains, seeds, and nuts, they form complete protein. Pulses are also high in zinc.
Choose low-fat, low-sugar varieties. Greek yogurt averages twice the amount of protein than regular dairy yogurt. It also contains other skin-loving nutrients, such as Vitamins A, D, E, K, and zinc.
Lycopene is the antioxidant pigment that paints tomatoes red. Lycopene reduces infection risk. Eat ½ cup, and you’re getting 20 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C and 15 percent of the RDA for Vitamin A.
Vitamin C in this tuber puts you on the fast track to healing by helping to produce collagen. Sweet potato also aids formation of red and white blood cells. Carotenoids and beta-carotene are pigments that protect against infection. Both of them convert to Vitamin A. Sweet potato is a good source of Vitamin E as well.
Can you distinguish sweet potatoes from yams? If not, here’s the scoop. Sweet potatoes are short, with smooth skin and tapered ends. Yams are long, with rough, scaly skins. The flesh of a sweet potato is moist and sweet while that of a yam is dry and starchy.
Sweet potato skin can be purple, gold, or copper. The corresponding flesh is purple, white, or orange, respectively. Sweet potatoes are more nutritious than yams, being higher in nutrients and fiber.
Oranges, limes, and lemons are steeped in Vitamin C. Since your body doesn’t make or store this vitamin, you need to ingest it regularly. Lime and lemon rinds have compounds that prevent cellular damage. To speed healing, zest organic versions of these fruits and add them to salad.
I must warn you about grapefruit. If you have a surgical wound for which you’re taking prescribed medication, eating grapefruit can result in an overdose. It can double and triple drug strength, resulting in toxicity.
Drug overload burdens your kidneys with the task of ridding the chemicals from your system, setting the stage for kidney failure. Stomach bleeding occurs when grapefruit is combined with blood-thinning drugs.
Approximately 85 drugs interact negatively with grapefruit and are potentially lethal. Also, if you’re planning surgery, don’t eat grapefruit prior to your operation.
Berries and Cherries
These fruits contain anthocyanidins, plant pigments that enhance the benefits of Vitamin C, strengthening collagen and blood vessels. Eat one serving of berries or cherries daily. This equals ½ cup of blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, eight large strawberries, or 10 cherries.
Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds are excellent sources of zinc. Their healthy fat aids the assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins.
The Best Supplements to Reduce Wound Healing Time
WebMD reports that taking InflammEnz after surgery can hasten wound healing by three days. In 2004, University of Texas researchers studied the effects of InflammEnz on healing rate. Following biopsy, 26 patients with open wounds were divided into two groups. One took the oral supplement InflammEnz while the other received a placebo. Those taking InflammEnz had less swelling and redness at the biopsy site and healed 17 percent faster.
Four nutrients in this herb-based product are credited for this outcome:
- Vitamin C – as ascorbic acid
- Bromelain – anti-inflammatory enzyme sourced from pineapple stems
- Rutin – plant pigment that prevents bruising and protects blood vessels
- Grape Seed Extract – ushers Vitamin C into cells, forms new blood vessels, fortifies cell membranes, and prevents scar tissue
The InflammEnz study was published in the July 2004 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Amazon.com customers give the supplement a 5-star rating. You can buy it here.
Bacterial infection is common post-op. Surgical trauma can upset the balance of microbial flora in your digestive system. Antibiotics further tip the scales and promote the growth of resistant bacteria.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that kill pathogens, prevent inflammation, and stimulate tissue growth. The recommended daily dose is 50 billion colony forming units (CFU). Since bacterial strains have different health benefits, take a supplement with several strains, including Acidophilus and Bifida bacteria. I recommend this high-quality probiotic supplement.
Good dietary sources of probiotics are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso. However, it’s difficult to obtain high bacterial counts from cultured products. Probiotic supplements are a safe and more potent form.
This high-quality protein is derived from milk, separated from milk solids during cheese-making. Whey contains lactoferrin, a protein that boosts immunity. The amino acid glycine aids tissue repair. Growth factors also expedite healing. Doctors often recommend whey protein for burn and surgical wounds to reduce healing time.
Whey is available in three powder forms – concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Isolate is the purest, at least 90 percent protein, with little to no lactose and fat. Hydrolysate is predigested and easily absorbed but more expensive.
It’s important to choose undenatured whey. Denaturing exposes whey to high heat, acidic liquids, and oxygen. Fast spinning and vigorous blending further break down protein structure. While denaturing doesn’t impair food value, it destroys bioactivity. Therefore, denatured whey doesn’t boost immunity.
Also, buy whey that hasn’t been exposed to antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones. I recommend Biochem Natural Whey Protein Isolate, available here.
Now you know how to coax a slow-healing wound. Calculate your daily protein goal, based on your weight in kilograms. Then, eat high-quality protein foods, such as eggs, soy, pulses, and Greek yogurt. Obtain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals from tomatoes, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, berries, and cherries.
Please share your wound-healing success with the rest of us on the mend!