A burn is damage to the body's tissue caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or radiation. The three types of burns include first, second and third degree, according to Medline Plus. A first-degree burn has damaged only the outer layer of skin, while a second-degree burn has damaged the outer layer of skin and the layer underneath. Third-degree burns damage or destroy skin and cause damage to the underlying tissue. Third-degree burns require special diets to promote healing.
Nutrition is a major component of recovery for the burn patient, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Burn patients require high amounts of calories and protein for wound healing, weight maintenance and infection prevention. Adequate nutrient intake will spare lean body mass and protein stores and aid in recovery after burns.
Carbohydrates provide the bulk of the calories for the burn patient, according to the University of Rochester. Burn wounds require the glucose from carbohydrates for healing. Carbohydrates also prevent the use of muscle protein as a source of fuel. Carbohydrate food choices for a burn patient may include bread, cereal, rice, pasta, crackers, potatoes, beans, sugar, peas, corn, fruits and juice.
Burn patients have very high protein needs because of increased protein losses through the burn wound and the need to provide enough protein to prevent the breakdown of muscle. The registered dietitian website Nutrition411.com says burn patients need 20 to 25 percent of their calories from protein, or 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Foods high in protein include meats, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, dairy foods and eggs.
Fat is needed in the diet after burns to provide essential fatty acids and additional calories. The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends no more than 30 percent of calories from fat because too much fat can weaken the immune system. Sources of fat include butter, cream, oil, salad dressing, nuts, avocados and oily fish like salmon and sardines.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin and mineral needs increase five to 10 times above normal needs in patients with burns, according to Nutrition411.com. A multivitamin is usually recommended and ordered by a physician. Additional vitamin A and vitamin C may be recommended because of the role they play in collagen synthesis.