Tendons are the connections between bone and muscle. Tendons are composed of dense fibrous connective tissues, have limited blood supply and are under almost constant tension from use. These properties make it hard for the body to repair tendons when there is a tear, strain, sprain or other damage.
Foods High in Enzymes
Because the tendons are dense and poorly vascularized, foods with active enzymes are extremely helpful for nourishing and repairing tendons. These foods include pineapple, papaya, any fresh fruits or vegetables and fermented foods. Pineapple and papaya have specific enzymes (bromelain and papain) that are very active enzymes in the blood and help the body to repair strained muscles and tendons.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a cofactor for the production of collagen, the most prevalent protein in tendon tissue. Foods rich in vitamin C include fresh fruits and vegetables such as peppers, papayas, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and spinach.
Foods Rich in Calcium
Tendons and other connective tissues have a great deal of calcium, and foods containing calcium are helpful to nourish the tendons. The foods most often associated with calcium are milk products. However, because of the cold and phlegm-producing nature of these foods, only fermented milk products (yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, etc.) are recommended for tendon health. Non-dairy foods rich in calcium include salmon, sardines, collard greens, spinach, okra, broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy.
Other Beneficial Foods
Any foods that are high in collagen or other components of connective tissues are excellent food for tendons. These include meat--especially fish and poultry because more connective tissues are used--beef and chicken soup, pho (Asian tendon soup), ribs and other soups and foods made from joint and bone stock.
Fruit juices tend to be very high in sugar and, because high blood sugars can cause additional inflammation, are not recommended as a healthy source of nutrients, especially for nourishing the body after strains and sprains. On the other hand, vegetable juices are an excellent way to nourish tendons. Cold juicing preserves the active enzymes in fruits and vegetables and provides concentrated nutrients.
Oriental Medicine Perspecive
In Chinese and other Oriental medical views, the liver is the source of the tendons, so foods that are generally healthy for the liver are also good for the tendons. Most of the foods listed above fall into the category of foods that nourish the liver and, therefore, the tendons of the body. The only major difference is the addition of root vegetables like beets or burdock.
- "Medical Nutrition from Marz;" Russell Marz, Second Edition 1998
- "Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition"; Paul Pitchford, 2002
- "Basic Pathology"; Kumar, Cotran and Robbins; Sixth Edition 1997