Authors: Matthew Le, AP & Malaina Morales, AP
Nutrition for Supporting the Healing Process
When using myofascial therapies and dry needling to break down dysfunctional tissue, it is important that we ensure that the body is equipped to rebuild healthy tissue. This is where nutrition and hydration becomes a point of focus for our patients. In this article, we will outline a few of the most important nutrients for tissue healing.
These nutrients play vital roles in the structure and function of all cells and are especially important during the healing process. Common nutrient deficiencies or inadequacies may contribute to unresolved inflammation because the body may be lacking the raw materials to rebuild and repair. Some foods that contain high amounts of the necessary nutrients for healing include:
Organ meats contain such high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals that they only need to be eaten 2-3 times per week. Seafood is an excellent source of essential minerals and Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to directly curtail the inflammatory process at the site by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory local hormones. Animal products such as meat and eggs provide essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, Vitamin E, zinc, iron, and selenium and also supply high-quality protein, fat, and cholesterol - the very substances that our cells are comprised of. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of Vitamin C and electrolytes, which respectively help to induce collagen synthesis and maintain hydration of your muscles and tissues.
What Foods Cause Inflammation?
Certain food choices may contribute directly to prolonged inflammation. The two main culprits are vegetable oils and excessive amounts of dietary carbohydrates. Among other deleterious effects, these foods can lead to cell damage through processes known as glycation and oxidation. These processes create toxic end-products known as Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and Advanced Lipid Peroxidation End Products (ALEs). Additionally, the high levels of Omega-6 Fatty Acids found in vegetable oils can contribute directly to inflammation because they help to fuel the inflammatory process by directing the formation of pro-inflammatory local hormones known as eicosanoids.
Other sources of inflammation in the diet may include plant antinutrients, especially lectins. Lectins are the proteins that are found predominantly in plant foods. As they are indigestible in humans, they pass through our digestive tracts unchanged. They also can bind to and damage cells on the gut wall, causing what is known as "Leaky Gut", which is implicated in autoimmune disorders and widespread inflammation. One of the most notable lectins known for causing digestive issues, inflammation, and autoimmune dysfunction is gluten (wheat protein). The highest sources of lectins in our diet today are grains, legumes, and nightshade vegetables. Sprouting, fermenting, and cooking are all forms of processing that can help reduce the lectin content, but for sensitive individuals, removing them completely may be helpful. Avoiding foods such as beans, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, and tomatoes may help reduce lectin consumption.
Is a Dietary Change Right For You?
In summary, we advise a strong focus on animal foods and fresh fruits and vegetables while removing or cutting down on carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and processed foods. As always, our advice is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Finding a way of eating that works and helps to manage pain is going to look different for every individual. We will work together to discover just what that will look like for you. We also recommend consulting your Primary Care Physician before implementing any new dietary regimens.
If you are interested in nutritional therapy, we generally advise that dietary changes be implemented for a minimum of 6 weeks in order to see positive changes. In the Metabolic Clinic, a low-carb or ketogenic approach is the most effective strategy for managing and reversing metabolic disease. However; in the Orthopedic Acupuncture Clinic, we do not recommend any single diet or strict dietary rules. Instead, we work to tailor your dietary strategy to fit your goals and help you achieve the vitality and well-being that you deserve.