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Eating for Healing

I’ve heard more times than I care to remember that running is bad for me, I won’t be able to walk when I’m older, and I’m ruining my knees.  Yes, I hurt sometimes, I’ve had a stress fracture, I’ve lost a few toenails, and chafing… well I’ll stop there.  But I also once heard someone say that we accept these things as minor sacrifices for a feeling and experience that just can’t be explained.  Running, biking, swimming – these are things we do not because it doesn’t hurt, but for our own personal satisfaction.  However, when we do get injured, there is nothing we wouldn’t do to make the recovery process speed up so we could get back out there a little sooner.  Injuries suck. Period.

During my 15miler last weekend, I got my weekly dose of Ben Greenfield and learned all about the role of food in our recovery process.  As I was listening to it, I was also cursing myself for not knowing this when I had my stress fracture a few years ago.  Instead of eating for recovery, I cut back on calories and probably prolonged my injury by a month.  Now that I better understand the role of nutrition in the recovery process, I feel like I have a little more control over my injuries.

So what are the foods we should be eating to get us back outside sooner rather than later?

In addition to  RICE – rest, ice, compress, and elevate, aim to include the following nutrients in your diet:

  • Vitamin A (spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots) to increase production of white blood cells which help to fight infection
  • Vitamin C (strawberries, oranges, peppers and broccoli) to help flesh wounds heal faster AND to help with the production of collagen, which helps repair connective tissue and cartilage.
  • Lean Protein (lean turkey, sirloin, fish, and chicken) which can serve as a bridge between damaged tissues and helps to promote repair.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D (milk, eggs, and yogurt) to help repair bones and muscle. The vitamin D improves calcium absorption which heals bone and muscle faster.
  • Omega 3 (tuna, salmon, trout) which  is rich in fatty acids and can help with inflammation that slows recovery from tendinitis, bone fractures, and sprained ligaments
  • Zinc (Meat, seafood, almonds, sunflower seeds) which helps all of these other vitamins and minerals do their job.

Perhaps the most interesting fact I found was that turmeric is a better anti-inflammatory than cortisone!  Who knew? I think I’ll be checking here for my next post-run meal.

Injuries have always been a huge downer, but it’s nice to know there are more active steps we can take to get better sooner.

Here’s to the injury free runner!
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
My Delicious Vitamin A, C, and Zinc smoothie
11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for all the great tips and suggestions; without these kinds of nutrients, we would all be walking and talking blobs. Great post and I’m look forward to sharing more with you:)

    January 21, 2012
    • I totally agree with you – food plays a huge role in our day to day lives. Ever since I changed my post-run food from bagels to spinach and fruit smoothies, I can tell a huge difference in how I feel. Quality food is essential =)

      Have a great rest of your weekend!

      January 21, 2012
  2. Kim #

    Thanks for the Tumeric tip. I have been nursing an IT Band Injury and will try anything that will speed the healing process!

    January 21, 2012
    • Let me know how it works… Since I learned about this, I haven’t had an injury (knock on wood), so I’m pretty curious.

      Sending you lots of get well soon vibes =)
      Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

      January 21, 2012
  3. Diggin’ this post!!! I love the science behind everything running related; and knowing that my ability to ‘just run’ is counting on so many of my own decisions, makes me realize that every moment counts!

    Had no idea about the tumeric tip – I’ll have to somehow remember that for the future.

    January 21, 2012
  4. EJD #

    Great post Tracie! Wish I’d also read this information a few months ago when I destroyed my ankle. Good thing I love 75% of what Bob recommends! 😉 Now to add tumeric and start eating spinach for breakfast! My half marathon training starts next week! XOXO

    January 21, 2012
  5. Joe #

    Great post. I’ve had few issues with injuries or soreness lately. I’m sure it is at least partly due to working in alot of these types of food into my routine. I regularly work spinach into my smoothies post-run. However, they don’t glow like yours do!! What do you put in there?

    January 23, 2012
    • I love spinach smoothies – they are so delicious!! I do think the pic I posted of my smoothie from last week is a little on the bright side and I’m not exactly sure why. That particular one only had spinach, almond milk, and mango (maybe a little too much spinach?). I made one this morning and put Vega Health Food Optimizer in it and I felt AMAZING (and that was after one too many glasses of wine from the night before). What do you typically put in yours? I’m in need of some new recipes =)

      January 23, 2012
      • Joe #

        I generally rotate between a couple different smoothies. My favorite uses coconut milk, chocolate whey protein, a banana, almond butter, a little bit of flaxseed and/or chia seeds. And, of course, a big handful of spinach. If I am looking for a little more in the way of carbs, I’ll substitute out the almond butter for some berries and switch to vanilla whey.

        January 24, 2012
  6. I love this post, too! I have read a similar book, but it’s so helpful to be reminded of how crucial those nutrients are… for healing, as well as daily energy and strength. Thanks for sharing!

    January 25, 2012

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