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Nutrition considerations when recovering from an injury.

When recovering from an injury we'd all like it to over as soon as possible. However it's important to be patient with the healing process and a crucial way to assist in this is through appropriate nutrition. But first lets look at your bodies response to an injury.

When tissues become injured, they are deprived of much needed oxygen and nutrient rich blood. This, combined with the initial damage leads to cell death. The body then needs to remove these dead cells in order to create new ones.

To do this the body initiates an inflammatory response. The purpose of this is multifaceted, largely to do with the immune response performed by leukocytes as your body fights off potential pathogens. However, part of it is that cell debris is cleared and new proteins are brought to the site of the injury and laid down so that the second phase can take place.(repair phase)

This means that we need a certain amount of inflammation to take place and although unpleasant, we shouldn't seek to elliminate it. Excessive or prolonged inflammation (inflammation resulting in agony, alarming amounts of swelling and/or swelling lasting for days at a time) can be mediated by anti-inflammatory drugs if recommended by a professional.

Beyond the first hour or few hours of being injured, ice treatment should be used very sparingly, on an 'as needed' basis rather than continual.

Now lets take a look at the repair phase and how we can assist with appropriate nutrition.

Our bodies require a lot of energy to repair an injury and can increase our BMR (the amount of energy required per day at rest) from 20-50%. So although our initial thoughts are to reduce calories this may not be the case. The best option is to keep an eye on your body composition and if you need to decrease calories then do so up to 20%. Every situation is obviously very different so allow for some trial and error here.

Probably the most obvious nutritional intervention during a period of injury is ensuring enough protein is consumed. A reduced protein intake will no doubt slow down the healing process. Aim for 1.6-2.2g per KG of body weight.This should be distributed over 4-5 meals with an aim of approximately 30-40g per serving. Bed rest will also affect muscle wastage so keeping protein levels up is key for ongoing muscle protein synthesis to take place to some degree.

The single most important thing is to consider basic nutrition sufficency, this includes fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids) and protein, but also micronutrients.

Vitamin D, Magnesium and Calcium are important for bone reformation.

Vitamon C, zinc and vitamin A decifiency could prolong the healing process.

Vitamin C is vital for laying down new collegan.

The vast majority of these requirements can be met with a well-balanced, whole foods diet.

However Vitamin D may need to be supplemented especially in the winter months.

Carbohydrates come into play here as a vast amount of micronutrients come from plants so now is not the time for a keto type diet.

Fat at around 30% of your daily calories this is needed for every cell of the body and hormonal health.

Fibre should also be consumed (usually acheivable with a whole food diet) with a guide of 20g per 1000 kcals consumed per day.

Inflammatory foods may be beneficial after the first day of injury, reducing foods that are processed for example will not only have a beneficial affect for your body but allow you to include more whole foods to help assist the healing process.

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