Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Even at Longevity Athletics – with our professionally supervised, scientifically formulated and individually tailored fitness experience – accidents happen. The question is, when they do, how can you help the body heal?

It’s not an uncommon notion that nutrition can play a powerful role in injury recovery. Yet when injury strikes, very few know how to put sound nutrition strategies together to improve healing.

In this article, I will introduce proven, best practices for using nutrition to speed up the healing process and get you back in the game – pronto.

Recovering from Injury: How the Body Gets it Done

Tissue Damage – whether from surgery or injury, sets into motion a three-stage recovery process.

1st stage: Inflammation

Pain, swelling, redness and heat; brings in healing chemicals to the injured area.

2nd Stage: Proliferation

Damaged tissues are removed; new blood supply and temporary tissue to the rescue.

3rd Stage: Remodeling

Stronger, more permanent tissue replaces the temporary tissue.

Nutrition for Inflammation Stage

Inflammation is critical as it starts the repair process. Too much, however, can cause additional damage. These strategies help produce the right amount.

Eat anti-inflammatory fats including:
•    Olive oil
•    Avocados
•    Fish oil
•    Flax oil or ground flax
•    Fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines
•    Mixed nuts and seeds

Stay away from pro-inflammatory things Like:
•    Processed foods high in saturated fats
•    Vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean
•    Foods with trans fats

Introduce inflammation-managing herbs and spices:
•    Curcumin from turmeric/curry power – 7 teaspoons a day of powder or 400-600mg in supplement form
•    Garlic – 2-4 cloves a day or 600-1200mg of aged garlic extract
•    Bromelain from pineapple – 2 cups of pineapple a day or 500-1000mg in supplement form
•    Cocoa, tea and berries
•    Eat daily or supplement with blueberry or grape extracts, green tea extracts, citrus extracts and bioflavonoid supplements

Nutrition for Proliferation and Remodeling Stages

Getting enough of the right foods is the first priority. Metabolism can increase 15-50 percent, so you will need fewer calories than when training hard but more than when inactive.

With each meal:
1.    Eat enough protein; minimally processed meats, eggs, plant-based proteins and protein supplements.
2.    Balance your dietary fat about 1/3 of fat intake from saturated, 1/3 from monosaturated, 1/3 from polyunsaturated.
3.    Eat the rainbow with a vibrant mix of fruits and veggies.
4.    Eat enough carbs. You will need less carbs than when training hard but enough to support recovery; the less processed the carbs the better with a preference to root vegetables and fibrous fruits.

Supplements to consider

Supplementing with the following for 2-4 weeks’ post-injury may be helpful:
•    Vitamin A – 10,000IU per day
•    Vitamin C – 1g-2g per day
•    Copper – 2-4mg per day
•    Zinc – 15-30mg per day

Other potentially beneficial supplements are:
•    Arginine
•    HMB
•    Glutamine
•    Proteolytic enzymes

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.


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