Whether you are recovering from surgery or fighting a nagging injury, there are several remedies to naturally promote healing and recovery. These tips are also wise to incorporate as preventative measures before surgery as well as before an injury strikes. [Please note, regarding surgery recovery: any alternative healing therapies should be cleared with your physician to ensure there will be no harmful interactions with your existing post-op treatments.]
1. Probiotics + Fiber
Probiotics (“good bacteria”) provide well-documented immune-boosting benefits. Most people are aware of these benefits, but fewer are aware that for probiotics to do their job, they need their own food. This “food” is called “prebiotics” - and fiber works. Increasing fiber in your diet will help your probiotics work more effectively.
2. Vitamin A + Vitamin C
Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells help fight off infection and viruses, and your body relies on them to protect an injury and increase the rate of healing.
Vitamin C offers internal protection against free radicals, helps our bodies maintain cartilage and bone tissues, and plays an important role in our bodies’ healing processes. Our bodies are not able to make Vitamin C on their own, so it is important to consume it on a daily basis.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids + Gamma Linolenic Acid
High quality omega-3 fatty acids have been widely researched and shown to have the ability to reduce inflammation. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is technically an omega-6 fatty acid, but it behaves like an omega-3. Reducing inflammation around an injury reduces pain and promotes healing.
4. Increase Quality Protein + Avoid Junk Food
Recovery time from an injury and/or surgery is not the time to eat junk food. Surgery in particular greatly taxes your body’s immune system, tapping your nutritional reserves to promote healing and fend off infection. It is therefore crucial that your body is supplied nutrient-rich foods.
High quality protein should also be increased after an injury (and after surgery, as soon as it can be tolerated). Multiple healing processes require protein, thus, the body’s demand for it increases after an injury. Elderly patients in particular who are recovering from fractures can especially benefit from increasing protein consumption because it can aid healing which can shorten the patient’s initial hospital stay. Adding 20 grams more of protein per day can increase production of growth factor IGF-1, which is needed for bone healing.
5. Increase Calories
Although the usual recommended daily calorie intake for a normal, healthy adult is about 2,500 calories, research indicates that a patient recovering from multiple fractures benefits greatly from increasing calorie intake, and may need as much as 6,000 calories a day to fuel healing.
6. Greenlipped Mussel
New Zealand greenlipped mussel is known for its anti-inflammatory and cartilage regenerating benefits when taken orally, but in gel form it can also be applied topically to help reduce post-fracture swelling. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in the mussel oil act quickly to relieve pain and decrease swelling. It is important to begin applying the greenlipped mussel gel as soon as possible after injury and surgery to maximize its benefits.
When we experience injuries or surgeries, it may feel like things are out of our control, but what we put into our bodies is very much within our control. So, choose wisely and provide your body plenty of nutritional resources to aid its innate healing capabilities.
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