Mikki Williden, resident nutritionist, gives us sound advice on why we should focus on diet and eat whole foods when we are recovering from injury.
Your body’s ability to respond to physical therapy is influenced by the nutrients that support rehabilitation and recovery. When we are injured, our body’s first line of defence is inflammation – and this is a necessary part of the reparation process. Chronic inflammation, however, can result in impaired or delayed musculoskeletal healing that over time affects our overall wellbeing.
Unfortunately the modern environment lends itself to a state of over-activation of the immune system, driving inflammatory processes in the body. Too much time spent at work, lack of physical activity (or too much activity), lack of sleep, increased demands on our time and a nutrient poor diet will all create a stressful environment.
Regardless of where that stress comes from the body responds in the same way – a release in hormones that sends your body into ‘fight or flight’ mode – raising blood sugar and insulin levels to deal with the perceived threat. Nowadays though, it’s not typically a life-threatening situation that requires the surge in glucose into the blood stream that was once necessary for survival. Your body doesn’t know this though, and the continued, chronic stress that many people experience creates an inflammatory environment that contributes to, or exacerbates, musculoskeletal damage.
There are many avenues with which we can repair and rehabilitate beyond that of physical therapy. A rehabilitation programme set by your therapist will be an almost band aid approach if underlying causes of inflammation aren’t addressed.
Nutrition plays a fundamental role in repair after an injury and consuming a diet that promotes anti-inflammatory pathways is key to recover. Unlike the modern diet which is abundant in excess sugar, refined carbohydrate, omega 6 fats in vegetable oils, calories – all of which drive inflammation – our best line of dietary defence is consuming foods that have been minimally processed, that we can look at the ingredient list and recognise what’s in it, that has had minimal human intervention.
The foods fundamental to our health are rich in B vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium, fibre, fat soluble vitamins K and D, naturally occurring fats and protein. They support energy metabolism, drive down inflammation and enable the body tissue to repair and rebuild. A real food diet, different from today’s standard Western diet, promotes musculoskeletal and emotional health – both essential for optimal wellbeing.
Mikki Williden, Nutritionist
Proactive would like to thank Mikki for contributing to our blog. Read more useful nutrition advice and commentary from Mikki on www.mikkiwilliden.com.