Nutrition Helps Rebuild and Repair Injured TissueBy drguenette • Sep 4th, 2009 • Category: Chiropractic, Fitness and nutrition, Health Highlights
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. When you damage muscles, tendons or ligaments, the involved area tends to lose function and become inflamed - red, swollen and painful.
This inflammatory response is an important part of the healing process. It limits further damage by restricting movement in the injured area and starts tissue repair and reconstruction. However, if inflammation is prolonged or a part of the inflammatory response does not work properly, healing can be delayed.
During the first 72 hours following an injury, resting and elevating the damaged area is recommended. Ice should also be applied intermittently for 10-15 minutes at a time. This helps reduce the pain of inflammation and keeps your recovery time to a minimum.
Chiropractic treatments have also been known to help reduce pain and speed recovery.
There are three main parts to repairing and rehabilitating injured tissue:
1) Consuming appropriate nutrients to help support your body’s response to inflammation
2) Rebuilding damaged connective tissue, such as ligaments, tendons and joint cartilage
3) Relaxing the soft tissue area where the injury occurred¹
Nutrients Essential to the Healing Process
Two of the most important nutrients to help your body deal with inflammation after an acute injury are the fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3.¹ These fats are not produced by your body, so you must get them from your diet – this is why they’re called the essential fats.
Food sources rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids include …
Fish and shellfish
Flaxseed (linseed) oil and canola oil
Hemp oil and soya oil
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
Also important for healing are bioflavonoids and proteolytic enzymes. These substances minimize the effects of pain and swelling and speed up your recovery.¹
Bioflavonoids are the water-soluble pigments found in citrus fruits. They have natural anti-inflammatory properties. And proteolytic enzymes, such as those found in pineapples and papaya, counteract the biochemicals involved in inflammation.
Traditional Medical Solution Has Risks
The standard medical treatment for tissue inflammation is usually dispensing anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen or similar medications. They are classified as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Although they have a history of effective pain management, NSAIDs have numerous side-effects, making it questionable whether these drugs are worth the risk.
A recent online article revealed that “over 100,000 people are hospitalized each year with GI (gastrointestinal) complications caused by NSAID use.” ²
Rebuilding Connective Tissue
Once the inflammatory response has been effective in limiting tissue damage and promoting healing, your body’s next step is to reconstruct the injured tissue.
Collagen is one of the most important parts in this repair process. It’s the main building-block of connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons and joint cartilage.
Substances helpful for rebuilding collagen include amino acids, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, plus vitamins C and E.¹
Amino acids are found in all proteins. Therefore, health experts recommend you consume a protein-rich diet when you need to repair and rebuild soft tissue. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are recommended more specifically for the repair of joint cartilage.¹
Free radicals are a by-product of inflammation. These dangerous molecules can cause further cell damage, so you want to minimize free radical production to help promote healing.
Antioxidants are powerful molecules that neutralize free radicals. Vitamin C and vitamin E are two well-known antioxidants. Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ, almonds or sunflower seeds.³ Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, strawberries, guava, sweet green or red peppers, and cantaloupe.³
Relaxing Soft Tissue Helps Speed Recovery
To complement the positive effects of therapeutic massage and chiropractic adjustments, your chiropractor suggests using dietary supplements to relax damaged tissue and facilitate healing.
Two minerals useful in this area are magnesium and calcium. In appropriate amounts, these minerals help with the proper contraction/relaxation of soft tissue. Foods rich in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, halibut and spinach. Besides dairy products, good sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, spinach, oranges and salmon.
Keep in mind you need an adequate supply of vitamin D to assist your body in absorbing calcium.
When given the appropriate tools, the body is very adept at healing itself following an injury. The guidelines in this article are designed to help improve your body’s healing abilities, and reduce the time needed to reach a full recovery.
Check with your local chiropractor if you require any further information regarding healing from any musculoskeletal injury.
Dr. Christian Guenette
Percival, M. Treating Injury and Supporting Musculoskeletal Healing. Applied Nutritional Science Reports. (2000)
Keller, J. Evidence-Based Medicine: When It Comes to NSAIDS, Less is More. National Commission on Correctional Health Care. (2004) Source: http://www.ncchc.org/pubs/CC/nsaids.html
Daily Green - www.thedailygreen.com
Hopkins Technology, LLC - http://www.hoptechno.com/bookfoodsourcemg.htm
Spine Health — http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/nutritiondiet-weight-loss/sources-calcium-food
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