One of the most important factors in a good healing regimen (after quality of care and patient compliance) is nutrition! We see lots of patients each day who are trying to heal a wound or burn, get rid of a nasty infection, or simply trying to get healthier overall, and one of the unfortunate things many of them have in common is poor nutrition.
Most people don’t think about nutrition when they have an injury or wound. Patients often think first about what they can do for their symptoms, their pain or discomfort, and what can be done about the injury itself. Should they wrap it? Cleanse it? Keep it try or moisturized? To they need medications or an x-ray? These are all valid thoughts and questions of course, but if a patient follows all of these steps and guidelines, and doesn’t have the right diet or daily nutrition, they may still have trouble healing!
So here’s what we’ve found at Encompass HealthCare! A patient who is attempting to heal from a wound, injury, or infection, must have a well-balanced diet yes, but they may also need an increase in protein during the healing process! Now, let’s address both sides of this statement.
First, a well-balanced diet!
What does this really mean? Well, a dictionary definition would be that a well-balanced diet is one which gives the body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. Great! But we also have to recognize that the nutrients needed are actually different for each and every person. A seven year old girl does not need the same amount of proteins or fats or calories each day as a 28 year old NFL player does, right? So how do we know how much to eat of what?
Luckily, there are lots of great resources on the internet that can tell you exactly how much and what kinds of food you should be eating based on a number of factors like your sex, weight, height, age, activity level, allergies, etc. Some of these diet calculators can be extremely helpful. But to put it simply, most individuals can follow these very basic guidelines for healthy choices;
Nutrient Rich Food Groups:
- Fresh Fruits
- Fresh Vegetables
- Lean Proteins
- Whole Grains
- Legumes & Nuts
These food groups offer a great variety of nutrients, including proteins and healthy fats and sugars. Do what you can to substitute these food groups in for less healthy alternatives like bacon, fried chicken, pops and sugary drinks, white bread, candied fruits, ice cream, cake, energy drinks, sausages, etc. The more you can eat from the nutrient rich list instead of the unhealthy food items, the better off you will be!
Another important note in a well-balanced diet is the quantity of food you’re eating. Don’t overeat. Try going one week only eating when you actually feel hungry. Studies show that those who only eat when hungry actually enjoy food more, spend less at grocery stores and restaurants, feel healthier, and tend to lose excess body weight they may have had before. These are all great reasons to try it out!
Nutrition While Healing
Now, the other side of nutrition that we talk to our patients about is “Nutrition While Healing”! This changes things a bit! While we still encourage our patients to keep a well-balanced diet, we also recommend that patients increase the intake of proteins when coming back from an injury or infection or when healing a wound. This increase in protein helps the body gear up for the healing process and typically increases the speed at which patients heal.
Proteins have a very important job in the body and in the healing process! There’s a good reason athletes use proteins for post-workout drinks and shakes! Proteins are responsible for the structure, function, and regulation of our tissues and organs. Including muscles, bones, skin, and much more.
Your body needs protein to help repair any damage done to the body. And if there is a significant amount of damage, say a third degree burn over the forearm, the body will need more protein than normal to complete the task of repairing the tissues! Hence, our guideline for increased protein intake during the healing process!
Keeping in mind that each person and their body’s needs are different, we recommend consulting a doctor or nutritional expert before changing any part of your diet. This is to ensure that the changes are proportionate to your body’s needs without risking any further injury or illness! These are guidelines we use when helping our patients heal! If you or a patient you know are dealing with a wound, burn, or infection that hasn’t made great healing progress in over a month, give us a call. Our physicians and wound care experts will assess the issue and determine what the non-healing factor(s) may be.
We hope this message was helpful to you! Be sure to pass it along, we all can use a healthful tip once in a while! Remember, a balanced diet will not only help you heal, but also can keep you from getting injured or becoming sick! Stay healthy friends!