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Eating to heal

Updated: Oct 2, 2021


When we are injured, our body is performing different physiological tasks than when we are injury-free. This means that while we are recovering from an injury, our bodies have different fuel/dietary requirements. We will explain why below.

Here's why...

To understand what our bodies need to heal, we need to understand a little about what our body is trying to do during the post-injury, healing phase. Initial inflammation Damaged cells release inflammatory chemical signals causing changes in circulation which creates the signs of inflammation most of us are familiar with- heat, redness and swelling. This is a normal, healthy response to an injury and helps to initiate tissue repair and regeneration. Tissue repair and regeneration Cells rapidly multiply to heal the damaged structures. This process may involve the formation of scar tissue or the remodelling of structures. Either way, these processes require adequate protein to occur optimally.

Here's what to eat

Protein. Glorious undervalued protein.

Proteins are the building blocks of cells. They are essential nutrients, meaning that we do not create proteins within our bodies, so we need to obtain them from our diets. Without adequate

proteins, our bodies are not able to rebuild cells for the repair or regeneration of damaged tissue. Protein is the most important fuel consideration when you are injured (and, in my opinion, at all other times). Sources of protein: - meat - fish - eggs - tofu, tempeh - lentils - nuts - whey protein powders - pea protein powders As a general rule, aim to consume 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein per meal. Increase this as needed during the healing phase.

Supplements that can help tissue healing: Fish oils:

  • Are the best source of omega 3 essential fatty acids (we say best, because they are generally more affordable than krill oil, and it is important to note that plant sources of omega 3 are not as easily utilised in the body as fish sources)

  • Omegas are inflammatory modulators

  • Are particularly important following head injuries.


  • Research on the effectiveness of glucosamine is varied, however from our clinical experience, there are many people who notice reduced pain and increased joint mobility from using a glucosamine supplement.


  • Has anti-inflammatory properties

  • Helps with the creation of connective tissue

A good quality multi-nutrient supplement:

  • Unfortunately, most people do not obtain all the essential micronutrients that our bodies require from diet alone. Part of this is due to soil conditions and product availability. Because of this, it is important to supplement with a quality multivitamin or multi-nutrient supplement daily.

Our thoughts

Our fuel requirements always depend on our activity levels. For example, if your injury has caused you to go from a high level of daily activity to a low or sedentary activity level, you may need to reduce the amount you are eating accordingly; if you continue to be quite active, despite your injury, you may need to change how you are eating or even increase how much you are eating overall in order to give your body the fuel it requires to heal.

Written by Tessa Sareva

TLC osteopaths

Hamilton Nz

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