Food For Thought: Helping Your Body to Repair

At some stage in our life, most of us are going to be confronted with some sort of an inflammation. This could stem from and injury such as a rolled ankle, or maybe a chronic medical condition such as inflammation related to arthritis. Quite often people turn to medications to manage inflammation or ice and compression for the acute injuries. Of all the questions that we get – never are we confronted about nutrition.


Helping your body repair is most certainly about the physical aspect and as Physiotherapists, we are very well placed in being able to assist with that. But what else can you be doing to help with your injury? What we put into our body can be the fuel source and building blocks to getting us back on our feet and because of  this, what we put into our body can both assist with healing  or potentially hinder and slow down the healing process.


As published by Harvard Medical School in the USA, there are a number of food/drinks that should be avoided following an acute injury due to their inflammatory properties. These include;

  • Refined carbohydrates
  • French fries and salty foods
  • Sugar – soft drinks, chocolate, lollies
  • Red meat and processed meats
  • Margarine and lard
  • Saturated and trans-fats.

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The Arthritis Foundation further supports the information provided by the Harvard Medical School. The Arthritis Foundation takes into account chronic (long term) inflammation that is resultant from chronic disease and less about acute injuries. However, the properties of the food remain the same.

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Instead, research supports the use of other nutrients, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Remember, this doesn’t mean that by consuming these foods, your inflammation will cease. It is something that can assist and potentially prevent the ongoing nature of the inflammation. Such foods to consume include

  • Tomatos
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts (almonds and wall nuts, no added salt)
  • Fatty fish
  • Fruit (berries, oranges, cherries).
  • Wholegrain pasta and rice, Quinoa (avoid refined)

Research is suggesting that fruits such as cherries may have similar properties to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and blueberries contain antioxidants that rid the body of certain elements in the blood that promote inflammation. Green leafy veggies are jammed with vitamins A, C and K which are great antioxidants and help in reducing the inflammation process.


Popular at the moment is the spice turmeric. The active component of turmeric – curcumin is thought to inhibit certain properties of inflammation. Research is still being conducted to determine its effect and appropriate dosage. We do advise if you are keen to trial curcumin, liaise with your doctor to ensure there are no interactions with your other current medication.


Like mentioned, these food will not prevent inflammation occurring in an acute injury. But rather, they can avoid making the situation worse and can assist in reducing inflammation. So next time you find yourself with a muscle tear or something that causes the inflammatory process in your body to kick off, choose your foods wisely to help get yourself back to your pre-injury state as soon as possible!



Ciara Conway

Physiotherapist & Exercise Scientist


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