If you've ever had a serious injury or surgical procedure, I bet you wondered what foods, nutrients, and lifestyle habits you can incorporate to speed healing.
It's an important aspect to consider since nutrition plays a critical role in how our bodies heal from trauma.
Whether you broke a bone, threw out your back, got into a car accident, or underwent a surgical procedure, there are certain nutrients and lifestyle factors that will dictate how quickly and effectively your body will bounce back.
This article will outline some of the most important strategies on how to optimize recover after surgery or injury.
My Experience with Surgery
I suffered a series of injuries to my right knee leading up to the brutal dislocation which led to an injury that required surgery.
My ACL, MCL, & both menisci had been torn and in 2016 I went in for orthopedic surgery.
Following my procedure, the medical staff didn't provide me with any information of what to eat, what supplements may be helpful, or what I could do to improve my recovery process.
I wasn't exactly surprised by this, yet I knew diet and lifestyle factors were extremely important in my healing process so I took a deep dive into the research to figure out everything I could do to recovery faster and more effectively from my procedure.
While laid up in bed I had plenty of time to do my research and gathered what I believe is a comprehensive list of strategies that support the bodies healing process.
I bounced back from my intense knee surgery very quickly and was walking, cycling, and feeling pretty darn good in a very short period of time.
Since that time I have helped many of my clients recover faster and from injuries and surgery by implementing these tactics.
How to Optimize Recovery After Surgery Or Injury
In addition to the standard recommendations you are likely aware of including ice, elevate, physical therapy, and rest, (which are all very important!) there are many other factors that you should explore that can help to optimize your recovery.
The foods you eat will greatly dictate how quickly and efficiently your body will bounce back from a trauma.
Avoiding sugars, starches, and alcohol is essential. These foods/beverages will suppress immune system function, cause additional inflammation in the body, lead to weight gain, and numerous other issues.
You want to aim to consume plenty of high-quality protein, healthy fats, and lots of non-starchy vegetables.
This will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to expedite the healing process and keep your healthy while recovering.
Protein is going to be especially important since your bodies protein requirements greatly increase after a physical trauma. We require amino acids to regenerate and repair various tissues in the body.
Two great options to get this protein intake are bone broth and wild caught fatty fish. (such as salmon)
Check out this article on the perfect human diet to learn more about how to optimize your nutrition.
You will need to allow your body ample time for deep, restorative sleep during the healing process.
Not just rest. Sitting on the couch watching tv is not the same as being sound asleep.
Give yourself the time and environment to get at least 8-9 hours of good quality sleep each night.
This will provide the greatest benefit in your healing journey and should not be underestimated!
Getting outside during the peak of the day and exposing your skin to the sun will provide countless benefits to your recovery and overall health.
Don't stay out too long since you do NOT want to create even more physical stress by getting sun burned.
Read this article to learn how to optimize your sun exposure while minimizing the risks.
When was the last time you ditched your shoes and walked barefoot on the Earth's surface?
This simple practice is a rare occurrence for most people in our society today.
Earthing, also referred to as grounding, is the simple act of connecting your barefeet to the earth.
The earth contains a vast supply of electrons, and these electrons are literally absorbed through your feet and provide your body with a number of health benefits.
This will help reduce inflammation and promote healing!
You can also consider getting an earthing mat for your home so you can reap these benefits even while your inside relaxing.
Check out this article to learn more about how earthing can benefit your health!
This may sound a bit woo woo to some of you, but the science clearly demonstrates that your thoughts have a strong impact on your physical well being. (1)
Dr. Joe Despenza's work first opened me up to this concept years ago and the hundreds of scientific studies have confirmed the power of the mind/body connection.
You can learn more about Dr Despenza's story here.
I urge you to explore guided meditations, visualization techniques, and mindfulness practices to enhance your bodies healing abilities. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Natural Supplements to Optimize Recovery After Surgery or Injury
I believe these 5 natural foods/supplements to be profoundly impactful on your bodies ability to heal!
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and plays a critical role in wound healing! (2)
This essential protein is important for our skin, connective tissue, and much more.
Following a trauma, increasing your intake of collagen can work wonders for enhancing the healing process.
The best source of collagen is bone broth! Making your own is ideal, although store-bought is also a fine option. Check out this article to learn more about how to source it and how to make your own bone broth!
Drinking 16-20 ounces of bone broth daily is an excellent idea during healing.
In addition to bone broth, adding a high-quality collagen protein powder to your smoothie/beverages is also a phenomenal idea.
This is the collagen protein I use and recommend.
Perfect Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides, from 100% Grass-Fed Brazilian Pasture Raised Cows, Large 660 Gram Container of Collagen Hydrolysate Powder, Highest Bioavailability Price: $38.95
2. Vitamin C
This essential nutrient is very important for your immune system function which is vital for fending off infections and keeping your body healthy while you heal.
Vitamin C is also required for collagen synthesis and has been shown to help in healing bone, tendons, and ligaments! (3)
I supplement with additional vitamin C daily since it's so important for hundreds of biological processes in the body, but when we are sick or during times of stress/healing our bodies requirement of this nutrient sky rockets.
Most animals manufacture their own vitamin C and studies have shown their production of vitamin C goes up substantially during times of illness, stress, or trauma. Humans don't create vitamin C internally so it's a fantastic idea to bring in extra during these conditions.
Taking an additional 1,000 mg of vitamin C with each meal can really help your body during times of healing.
Source Naturals Ultimate Ascorbate C Powder 1,000mg Highest Quality, Essential Vitamins - 100 Tablets Price: $14.35
Colostrum is the first food of life in mammals. It has over 200 active compounds that help with immune system function, growth and repair, reducing inflammation, and so much more.
It's the perfect superfood to aid the body in healing and recovery! (4)
Colostrum contains multiple growth factors that help repair connective tissue, muscle, and the gut lining.
In fact, colostrum is one of the best supplements to use for healing leaky gut!
It's rich in proline rich peptides (PRPs) that help to reduce inflammation, among many other benefits in the body.
Colostrum is also a great source of methylsurfonylmethane (MSM) which is a micronutrient that helps heal wounds and minimize pain!
Colostrum LD made by Sovernlabs is the highest-quality, best colostrum supplement I've come across! I use this on a regular basis and have had great success using it with clients in healing a number of different issues.
A good multivitamin will provide you with a solid foundation of many essential vitamins and minerals to avoid deficiencies.
This will provide your body with dozens of nutrients needed for recovery and good health.
Multivitamins have gotten a bad reputation because pharmaceutical companies have created products that are widely advertised and use synthetic, low quality ingredients and toxic additives.
The truth is that if you are using a high quality product, it is safe, effective, and an excellent idea.
Here is the multivitamin I take on a daily basis
5. Systemic Enzymes
Proteolytic enzymes are responsible for maintaining millions of functions in the body and are required for all metabolic processes.
These enzymes are especially helpful in supporting healing and repair in the body making them perfect to use for injury recovery or post surgery.
Systemic enzymes must be taken on an empty stomach (2+ hours after eating and 30-40 minutes before eating) to achieve their effects so it's best to use right when you wake up and right before bed.
These enzymes are profound in their ability to reduce scar tissue, promoting healing, and speed recovery!(6)
These are the systemic enzymes I use in my practice and get the best results with: Vitälzym Extra Strength Systemic Enzymes Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
In addition to the nutrient covered in this section, check out my article on "5 Essential Nutritional Supplements for Optimal Health" where I cover important nutrients virtually everyone could benefit from.
I know this may seem like a lot, but 1 hour/day dedicated to some of these lifestyle factors, a bit of online shopping, and investing a few hundred dollars to speed and enhance the recovery and healing of your body seems well worth it to me!
Your health is your greatest asset and every single strategy covered in this article will have wide ranging benefits that go above and beyond recovery.
I will happily spend a few extra bucks and some time each day if it means my body can bounce back faster, stronger, and more effectively following a physical trauma.
It's time, energy, and money well spent!!!
Read Next: Why Nutritional Supplements Are Important For Optimal Health and Performance