We all could use some healing these days. The aches and pains we experience from being active and working out or just from the day to day of our lives or maybe you happened to fall off the couch wrong on your last trip to the fridge. Your body needs to heal itself. And food can help heal.
I’m not talking about how a dish of ice cream can heal the soul (although that works wonders too). I’m talking about how proper nutrition can help your body optimize the healing process. The food you eat and the nutrients it contains—vitamins and minerals, anti-oxidants, protein—can accelerate the time it takes to mend your joints, tendons, and bones and help them to feel better faster.
Let’s break it down (insert beat box sound FX here) …
Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and kale are all rich in vitamin A, which works to help infection by increasing white blood cell counts. And before you ask, I don’t think sweet potato fries qualify. Okay, maybe.
What about vitamin C? The usual suspects such as oranges or strawberries for vitamin C are advised, but don’t forget that peppers and broccoli are rich in vitamin C too! (mmm, peppers … ) The vitamin C helps repair connective tissues and cartilage through the formation of collagen.
Vitamin D comes into play in its role helping the body to absorb calcium. And we all remember from science class that calcium builds strong bones (and muscles too). Yes, eggs, milk, and yogurt are your friends here, but plant-based foods can also be rich in calcium too. We suggest spinach (Popeye ate it for a reason), turnip, mustard, or collard greens, and tofu as well.
Protein is critical for body repair and you can get your protein from meat sources (lean turkey or chicken, fish, or sirloin) or non-meat sources (quinoa, beans, lentils, and again, tofu).
Zinc works with our bodies’ immune system (cold lozenge, anyone?) and for cuts and scrapes (zinc oxide, anyone?), but it also helps other nutrients do their work to repair damaged tissue. Just don’t overdo it as too much zinc (greater than 40g daily) can affect cholesterol levels.
Omega 3 acids help reduce inflammation especially if you’re suffering from tendonitis or a sprain. Fish is loaded with omega 3, but so are walnuts and flax seed.
By all means, the doctor needs to make you feel better. But so does the cook! Eat your way to a faster recovery!
photo credit: Steve Snodgrass