The human body has an extraordinary capacity to heal itself. Science has come to the party with the addition of antiseptics, antibiotics and pain relievers, as well as less-invasive surgical procedures, all of which assist the body to recover from injury. Our bodies know when something isn’t right, so when a wound is inflicted, initially the body will fight off infection then rebuild the damaged cells and skin.
It all starts with haemostasis, when the first-aid process kicks in, slowing the flow of blood. Once bleeding is controlled, the inflammation phase begins, where inflammatory cells necessary to prevent infection migrate into the wound. Heat, redness and swelling of the area are common during this stage. From here, construction work starts with the proliferation phase. New blood cells and tissue are built and new skin forms. Maturation follows, when the wound closes and new collagen is remodelled.
Wound healing takes energy, rest and time. It’s important to listen to follow your doctor’s advice for optimum results, but equally important to listen to your body.After a surgical procedure, your body goes through a similar process while recovering. Recent research from the University of Michigan, published in Surgery, reports that basic fitness and wellness coaching, administered in advance, could reduce a patient’s average hospital stay by two days – from 7 to 5, when compared to a control group.
The study followed a regime set out in the Michigan Surgical and Health Optimization Program, an initiative aimed at helping patients target and strengthen weaknesses before surgery. Aspects of behavioural change before surgery include diet, reducing stress, breathing exercises, light physical activity and smoking cessation.
While you are recovering from surgery or an injury, it may feel like you’re doing nothing, but your body is actually working hard to heal. To help this process, fuel your body with protein, healthy fats, and nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C and D, zinc, and iron.
Try these foods to help your body heal:
This creamy fruit contains omega-3 fatty acids – the good kind of fat that helps reduce inflammation and sustain healthy skin cells.
Better known as pumpkin seeds, these little kernels contain protein and iron, as well as zinc. Add to trail mixes, salad and muesli.
Whatever your colour preference these tasty vegies offer a hefty dose of vitamin C to help the body form new tissue.
Lean Red Meat
Protein is a must while you heal as tissue requires it to repair. For vegetarian options, try quinoa and soy foods.
Easily added to salads and stews, kidney beans are a good source of iron, which is essential to the oxygenation process that promotes healing.
Yes, manuka honey tastes good, but research shows that its antibacterial properties can help speed up healing when used as wound dressing.