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Foods That Speed Healing

author image Erica Kannall
Erica Kannall is a registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in clinical nutrition, community health, fitness, health coaching, counseling and food service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in clinical dietetics and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.
Foods That Speed Healing
woman eating yogurt in her kitchen Photo Credit Cathy Yeulet/Hemera/Getty Images

There is no one miracle food that instantly cures your body of ailments and injuries, but what you eat greatly impacts the rate at which you heal. Your body needs more of certain nutrients to regenerate cells and recovery from injuries such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, breaks, burns and surgeries. Eating foods that provide protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and zinc can aid in wound healing, while a diet lacking nutrients may increase your chances of developing an infection and slow or halt healing.

High-Protein Foods

According to the Wound Care Centers, protein is the most important nutrient to aid in healing. Your body needs the amino acids in protein-rich foods to regenerate cells and tissues that were damaged by your injury. Animal proteins such as beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese help you meet your body's need for protein. Choose lean cuts without skin and low-fat varieties when possible to get the most protein and the least fat from these foods. Protein-rich vegetarian foods, such as beans, nuts, seeds, tofu and nondairy milk, also help boost your amino acid intake.

Vitamin C-Rich Foods

Vitamin C helps speed the healing process and may aid in the strength of healed tissues. Bones, skin, capillaries and collagen, an essential connective tissue, all rely on vitamin C to form properly. Foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, tomatoes, melons, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, spinach and peas.

Foods High in Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another essential nutrient for proper healing. It functions as an antioxidant, helping to suppress inflammation from injuries. Vitamin A is also needed for skin and bone development, cell differentiation and proper immune function, according to an article published in the "Alternative Medicine Review" in 2003. To get more vitamin A in your diet, consume yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe and apricots; dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard and spinach; fortified dairy products and breakfast cereals; eggs; beans; and seafood such as salmon and tuna.

Vitamin E Sources

Getting enough vitamin E in your diet may improve healing and reduce scar formation, according to the "Alternative Medicine Review" article. Vitamin E is another antioxidant vitamin that may reduce inflammation and also increase the stability of cell membranes. To get more vitamin E, eat more wheat germ, nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts; vegetable oils such as safflower oil and soybean oil; spinach; and broccoli.

Getting Enough Zinc

The mineral zinc aids in collagen formation and protein synthesis. Zinc is typically found in high-protein foods, such as meat, seafood, chicken, nuts, beans, cheese and milk. Increasing your protein intake generally ensures you're meeting your need for zinc. Fortified breakfast cereals are another good source of the mineral.

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