CLEVELAND CLINIC – Food is the fuel that keeps your body running — and nutritional food is the fuel that keeps your body running well. What you eat impacts your energy levels, your immune system, your strength and even how quickly your wounds heal.
“Poor nutrition before or during the healing process can delay your healing,” says registered dietitian Kavitha Krishnan, RD. “While eating well can help the body heal faster and fight infection.”
That’s right: Nutrition plays a huge role in how fast (and how well) you heal. Whether you’re dealing with a surgical incision or a wound from an accident, you can tailor your diet to help maximize your healing.
Why nutrition matters for wound healing
When you’re injured, your body needs extra energy and nutrients to meet your body’s increased needs and help the wound heal. That means that nutrition plays an important role in wound healing.
One of the keys to wound healing is collagen, a protein in your body that provides structure and support to your skin, muscles, bones and connective tissues.
“Wound healing involves the body replacing the damaged tissue with new tissue, and this process requires an increased intake of calories, protein and particular nutrients,” Krishnan explains. “Wounds heal faster when we take in adequate amounts of the right foods.”
When you’re healing, your body needs:
- Calories, to provide energy to keep your body functioning.
- Protein, to help build, maintain and repair body tissues.
- Vitamins and minerals, to help repair and rebuild damaged tissue.
Without enough of all of these, your body may not have the resources to properly repair your wound, which can lead to a slower healing process or even complications.
Foods that help you heal
When you’re focused on healing, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods to support wound healing.