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.