How food can help us heal

We all know that eating healthy is important. This idea has been taught to us since we were kids, with sayings like ‘you are what you eat,’ ‘don’t forget to eat your vegetables’ and ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet can do wonders for our health. And as much as we might dream of gummy bears—or whatever your guilty pleasure is—becoming their own food group, we know that our minds and bodies feel and function better when we eat good food.

However, when it comes to food, diet and nutrition, one thing that scientists and nutritionists are still discovering is how food can help with healing and recovery. That’s right, eating certain food “[has] been shown to reduce inflammation, improve immune function, promote healing, and provide the fuel necessary for you to get on the mend.”1 So, if you (or someone you love) is recovering from an illness or injury, it’s even more important to focus on what goes into your body.

5 foods that can help control and reduce inflammation:2

  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Coldwater fish
  • Ginger
  • Pomegranate

5 foods that can help boost the immune system:3

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Citrus fruits
  • Green teas
  • Red bell peppers

5 foods that can promote healing:4

  • Brightly coloured fruits
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Whole grains

Recovering from an illness or injury is a journey that takes time. All the kale in the world won’t make you better overnight. However, depending on your ailment, you can potentially accelerate your healing time when you focus on what’s on your plate.5 And that’s what we all want, to get back to feeling like ourselves as soon as possible.

How each person reacts to an illness or injury is slightly different. That said, we do know that specific types of foods with essential nutrients are more effective for particular injuries. For example, with muscle and soft-tissue injuries, you’ll want to focus on foods with high protein content, essential fatty acids, vitamin C and antioxidants.5 While for bone fractures, it’s all about calcium-rich foods, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and potassium.5 For deep cuts and bad infections, foods with zinc and collagen should be your go-to.5

It’s important to remember that eating healthy is only one aspect of the healing journey and eventually feeling better. Depending on the type of illness or injury, there could be different medicines, treatments, doctors, specialists and physiotherapists involved. The goal of eating healthy when you’re sick or injured is all about using the healing power of food to assist in your recovery. Also, there’s nothing wrong with having a cheat day or two, especially when you’re feeling unwell. Sometimes comfort food is a necessity. Lastly, before starting any new diet, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or a nutritionist.

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