Well…it happened. Despite everyone’s best efforts, your child now has a torn muscle, a fracture, or a break. For many athletes and parents, especially competing at a higher level, they feel helpless and emotionally broken. Injuries have a huge impact on the athlete. But wait! That greasy pizza and ice cream you have to know really won’t help them, but the inhibition of healing by junk food is something that parents and athletes alike should take seriously.
Why are those quick fixes so damaging while we’re healing the body?
- Sugar increases inflammatory messengers like cytokines. And don’t think that just because you’ve cut out the candy and sodas you’re fine: refined flours, breads, muffins, and pasta can all contribute to the inflammatory load.
- Swap your fats: studies show that safflower and canola oils are actually inflammatory.
- Salt causes vasoconstriction which can lead to poor circulation of the injury site.
What foods are beneficial for tissue healing?
- Spices like turmeric, ginger, and pepper have anti-inflammatory properties and help promote circulation
- Go for foods rich in calcium like tahini, figs, and sardines to promote bone health. Make sure you’re also getting adequate vitamin D. (make sure you get a little bit of sun in the morning before you apply sunscreen before noon or supplement with Vitamin D drops daily in the winter especially)
- Lean protein like chicken, turkey, and fish are great for healing muscles
- Amp up the produce: fruits and vegetables contain thousands of vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids that help to quench inflammation and fight free-radical damage which can interfere with healing
- Nuts contain a very healthful fat profile that can help promote circulation and ease inflammation
- Small amounts of dark chocolate (at least 75%, low in sugar and fat or raw if possible) can also help fight inflammation
As always, make sure the injured athlete is getting plenty of rest and is staying well hydrated: water is our best friend when it comes to tissue healing.