Friday, 23 October 2015

Nutrition tips - Injury and Recovery (Post Event and Postal Natal too)

Nutrition Tips to help Post Injury, Post Event and Post Natal

I just wanted to share some simple advice about how our diet and the getting the right nutrition is really important for the repair of our soft tissues (muscles, connective tissue, ligaments and tendons)

To follow I cover advice for Post Injury, the immediate few days after a soft tissue injury (up to 5 days) and then the Recovery phase, both 5 days on from an injury and also the same advice is applicable to the post event period after strenuous exercise (over an hour of exercise). Strenuous or endurance exercise causes breakdown of body tissues (micro tears) and these need to heal, so the muscle soreness which we often feel the day after strenuous exercise is slight inflammation the start of the muscle healing process. Plus the Immediate Post-Event.

By eating the right sort of foods we can aid the soft tissue healing process.  This is equally important and relevant too for all women in the Post Natal healing period too.

Firstly, immediately Post Injury the body’ first response is inflammation and to help manage this inflammation phase our diet should consist of known anti-inflammatory foods.  The following suggested foods create a higher anti-inflammatory response in the body but importantly this doesn’t interfere with the repair process, but rather helps with the laying down of new collagen (which is the first step of the repair process for muscles and our bones)

So, a diet rich in mono saturated fats and Omega 3s is recommended, up the intake of foods such as avocados, olive oil, mixed nuts, fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel), flax seeds and using flax oil. 
In addition to consuming the right fats, other natural foods well known for their anti-inflammatory properties and include:
Turmeric, garlic, blueberries, red wine (in small amounts), tea, pineapple

Moving on from the immediate acute inflammation phase we head into Injury Recovery and also the same advice is relevant for Post Event Recovery and the Post Natal Recovery.  Now our diet needs to focus on helping the body’s soft tissue repair and formation, for Injury Recovery this can be a 1- 3 week period, Post Event (depending on the length and the endurance of the activity) but at least 2 days and for Post Natal 6 weeks.

For theses stages most important is that protein in take is upped. Protein is not used for energy but it contains amino acids and they are the building blocks for body’s soft tissues (bone). 

Examples are lean meats (chicken, turkey which are more easily digested), diary and eggs.  A heavy focus on vegetables and foods high in potassium such as leafy dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, bananas and melons are good as they are great sources of proteins and carbohydrates and lots of vitamins and minerals, but contain no fat. Protein should be included in at least 2 of your 3 daily meals.

Carbohydrates are still key for our energy, but obviously not as much as pre-event when we are building our energy stores.  Still don’t starve yourself.  Keep to minimally processed foods, whole grains and high in fiber foods are better, such as sweet potatoes, wholegrain rice, beans, quinoa.

Regular food intake is also key, eating every 3/4 hours, supplementing main meals with small snacks.

The other important time to consider is the Immediate Post-Event Period, which lasts for 30- 45 minutes following exercise.  Especially after strenuous exercise our body’s hormones are working hard to increase muscle blood flow, restore glycogen stores (for energy) and start the repair and new growth of tissues.  In this period our body needs a combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish glycogen and create a more favorable environment for muscle repair and growth and hence help reduce muscle soreness.  Suggested immediate post event snacks are:
Milk Shakes, Natural Smoothies with yoghurt, Lean Meat Sandwich or Low Fat cheese (more easily digested), Granola and Yoghurt.

**Remember alongside food, we need good fluid intake to support the healing process too. **

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