How to Recover Faster: Nutrition for Injury and Recovery
Intensive exercise, sports or work-related physical activity increases the chances that you’ll begin to suffer from a muscle strain at some point. Strains can be explained as a damage to a muscle, which occurs due to microtraumas in muscles caused by vigorous stretching, pulling, or tearing of muscle fibers.
As result of micro-injuries in your muscles you may be experiencing muscle pain, soreness, bruising or swollenness in the injured area. Mild strains are usually temporary and can be treated at home, however strains can be also acute caused by one sudden event with injury or trauma or chronic resulting from repetitive injuries and it this scenario it important to get help from a medical professional immediately, because it might lead to severe inflammation and impaired physical function. Although the longevity for full recovery depends on how badly you’ve injured, we have put together some effective, evidence-based nutrition recommendations that are known to help speed up the recovery from a sports injury and help you to get back to your normal activity regimen faster.
Protein is a macronutrient made up of amino acids that act as a building block for the body tissues, including muscles, and plays a crucial role as a nutrition support during immobilization after injury. Consuming sufficient amount of protein can help speed up the healing processes by supporting the body’s collagen production and other proteins that help to repair damaged tissues.
For all these reasons, be sure to include protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, tofu, beans, peas, nuts, or seeds in your daily menu.
Physically active people should strive to consume between 2.2-2.6g of protein per kg of body weight per day to maintain recovery processes, normal muscle metabolism and avoid muscle loss.
Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, which helps maintain the musculoskeletal tissue structures, including bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments. Thus, getting enough vitamin C is a great way to help your body to speed up post-injury healing processes.
In addition, vitamin C has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to neutralize oxidative stress, causing inflammation and muscle damage.
Foods that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, red and yellow bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, mangoes, and papaya.
People who cannot consume enough vitamin C from foods are advised to get vitamin C in a dietary supplement form.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Muscles strains are also followed by inflammatory reaction, which the body's normal response to injuries or infections that plays an essential physiological role and is necessary for healing. However, excessive inflammation can slow your recovery and prolong swelling, pain, redness and even lead to reduced muscle strength and function.
One way to prevent excessive inflammation is by consuming a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids though your diet or by taking dietary supplements.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in high amounts in foods such as fish, seaweed, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. These polyunsaturated fats are known to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation.
*It is also important to remember that you can prevent acute inflammation by limiting or moderating the consumption of foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids commonly found in corn, canola, cottonseed, soybean, and sunflower oils. This is because omega-6 fatty acids are known to be pro-inflammatory meaning that excessive consumption of those will only promote inflammation.
In addition, some studies have reported that omega-3 supplementation can help increase muscle protein production and reduce muscle loss during post-injury immobilization.
Zinc is a component of many enzymes and proteins, including those essential for wound healing, tissue repair and growth. Research shows that a lack of zinc in the diet can slow down wound healing. Thus, consuming zinc-rich foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains can help you heal faster and more effectively from injuries.
Some people may be tempted to take zinc supplements to ensure they are following the dietary recommendations for the zinc intake.
However, it is important to note that zinc competes with copper and iron for absorption, so taking high doses of zinc from supplements can suppress absorption of those micro elements, which may eventually lead to lower nutritional status of these micronutrients and even cause deficiency.
Overall, if you have good zinc levels, supplemental zinc from dietary supplements probably won't speed up recovery and healing processes. However, getting enough of this micronutrient from your diet is still important to support normal bodily functions.
Vitamin D and Calcium-Rich Foods
Calcium is an essential component for maintaining the strength and health of bones and teeth and is necessary for heart health. It is also involved in transmitting nerve signals and is important for muscle contraction, such as heart and muscle growth.
Therefore, getting enough calcium every day is important to recover and maintain normal bodily functions. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, leafy greens, sardines, broccoli, okra, almonds, seaweed, calcium-fortified tofu, and plant-based milk.
Don't forget about vitamin D, which also plays an equally important role in helping your body absorb calcium. Recent studies have also shown that acute vitamin D deficiency has a detrimental effect on muscle function and is associated with muscle weakness and reduced muscle mass.
Recovery from injury often includes immobilization or temporary restriction from any physical activity or training, which therefore can be highly associated with unwanted weight due to excessive calorie consumption (especially if you’re likely to treat yourself with some foods high in saturated fats and fast carbs.) and decreased physical activity levels.
One effective way to quickly satisfy hunger and maintain a healthy weight is to increase your fiber intake. This along with eating the protein-rich foods mentioned above will help you avoid overeating as fiber quickly saturates and provides other nutrients you need for your recovery, including vitamin C, magnesium and zinc found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
Remember that severe calorie restriction during recovery can slow healing processes and promote muscle loss, so focus on maintaining your normal weight until you fully recover rather than aim for weight loss.
Novo Vita Super Protein
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Novo Vita SuperProtein + contains all the essential amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, choline and ginseng extract which helps to increase and maintain muscle mass, and contributes to a normal energy metabolism.
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