Wednesday, 13 April 2011

On the mend

As regular readers will know, my good friend and snowboarding partner in crime Ms Haribo is a bit of a fitness freak filling her time with endless sporting activities. The downside of all this is that with all the snowboarding, pole dancing, running, dancing and parkour, she's picked up quite a few injuries along the way. Which is why she's asked me to blog on nutrition for injury recovery.

Infact this topic was covered on the recent sports nutrition conference I attended at the Royal Society of Medicine although the advice really hasn't change much since I did my training. So what does Ms Haribo need to get her on the mend?

Protein - provides amino acids, the building blocks for muscles, and so is needed for muscle repair. However your body can only assimilate 20-25g of protein in one go, so for maximum muscle building or repair you need to eat small amounts of protein regularly ie every 3-4 hours. So include healthy lean proteins with three meals and two snacks daily, such as fish, skinless chicken, eggs (max 1 a day), whey protein, tofu, soya, nuts and pulses.

The essential fats that I talked about in yesterdays blog have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body so are particularly important when recovering from any injury. They also can improve circulation - improving blood flow to the injured area, encouraging a good supply of these beneficial nutrients. Eating even just a palmful of nuts or seeds daily can be beneficial, whilst herbs such as Gingko or Gotu Kola are sometimes used to help improve circulation.

Conversely saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products, encourage inflammation and so should be minimised generally, but particularly when recuperating from injury.

Antioxidants help prevent all tissue damage and shorten recovery time, so you need to be extra vigilant on eating enough fruit and veg. However in times of intensive exercise or recovery food alone is unlikely to provide sufficient antioxidants. This is a great time to also supplement with an antioxidant top up such as Cherry Active or Red or Blue lightening powders as well as N-acetyl cysteine, Vitamin C, Selenium and CoQ10 supplements.

In the case of a break or other skeletal injury minerals such as calcium and boron will be important for bone repair, along with Vitamin D. A diet rich in leafy greens, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fish and eggs should be sufficient but in times of injury a bone specific supplement may be a good idea.

Rest and de stress - when you're stressed your body puts repair processes on hold and keeps the body in fight or flight mode - repairing a muscle just isn't a priority when you're running away from a tiger. So injuries will take longer to heal if you feel stressed or anxious or aren't getting enough sleep. So whilst your injury is keeping you from the gym, use your usual exercise time for some serious relaxation to help you recuperate and get as much sleep as you can, as a lot of the repair and tissue building will happen whilst you get your zzzzz.

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