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How to Eat Your Way to Recovery

Having to slow down after an injury is tough. During the recovery process, the pain and inflammation from the injury tend to linger. However, incorporating inflammation-fighting foods into your diet and avoiding foods that cause inflammation can help. Read on to learn how to eat your way to recovery.

Good Inflammation vs. Bad Inflammation

“Basically when you’re recovering, from a surgery or some kind of injury, you experience inflammation to help you heal,” said Laura Ferro, holistic health coach and private chef at the Vincera Institute. This is your body’s natural response, called acute inflammation. Acute inflammation is a defense mechanism in a healthy immune system. It protects the surrounding healthy cells and tissue and it is crucial to recovery.

After we are healed, the inflammation should go away. However, it often continues or was even present before the healing process began. When the body can’t turn off the inflammatory response it is known as chronic inflammation. “Most of us unknowingly experience chronic inflammation,” Ferro said. “You want the acute inflammation when you’re experiencing trauma, but after you’re healed you don’t want the inflammation anymore.”

There are many ways chronic inflammation is manifested including obesity, skin disorders, joint pain and arthritis, heart disease if it affects the arteries, and digestive issues.  “So if you don’t get a hold of inflammation then it can get out of hand,” Ferro said.

Getting it Under Control

Chronic inflammation lingering after a trauma or injury can be controlled and improved with diet changes that can help you recover faster. Ferro recommends incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet and limiting foods that are known to cause inflammation.

The top anti-inflammatory foods that Ferro recommends and uses include ginger and turmeric. They are also high in antioxidants and will help reduce free radicals that are set off when you’re experiencing inflammation. Leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens are also great. Foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids like wild caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, black cod, and walnuts help even out the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.

“A lot of us have high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids due to the standard American diet, and not enough of the omega 3s,” Ferro said. Other healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil are also good in moderation. Be sure to incorporate healthy proteins like organic, grass fed meats and plant-based proteins to keep the muscle repair going.

In addition to adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, eliminating inflammation-causing foods will help you recover faster and feel better. Avoid processed foods like white breads and refined and packaged foods that are so prevalent in our society. Trans-fats and excess sugar also cause inflammation. Try to limit dairy, gluten, and alcohol as they all cause inflammation too. Avoid feedlot raised meats, or animals that are fed soy, corn and other processed grains.

See the Results

Through feedback, Ferro has learned that her approach works. She has a patient who experienced the same injury twice so he had to go through the same surgery twice. “When I worked with him the second time he said he felt remarkable,” Ferro said. Because he was conscious about his diet, he had a quicker recovery time, he felt stronger and faster, and he experienced less pain during recovery.

“When you’re reducing all these trigger foods that are causing the chronic inflammation, you’re eating really clean. These foods that are causing the inflammation to be reduced are also giving you more natural energy,  a stronger immune system, a clearer head, and more mental clarity,” Ferro said.

For more information on nutrition and recovery, visit the Vincera Institute here. Visit their state-of-the-art facility at the Navy Yard or call (267) 592-3200 to make an appointment.