Saturday, June 11, 2016

Nutrition Guidelines to Improve Wound Healing

Good nutrition is necessary for healing. During the healing process, the body needs increased amounts of calories, protein, vitamins A and C, and sometimes the mineral zinc. The following guidelines will help you choose “power” foods to promote healing.

Goals for healthy eating

Eat a variety of foods to get all the calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals you need. 
If you have a prescribed diet, follow it as much as possible, as it will help promote wound healing and may prevent infection and some complications.

Suggested Minimum Amount of Food Per Day

Food GroupNumber of servingsWhat counts as 1 serving
Grains, using whole grain sources as much as possible51 slice bread; 1/2 cup cooked cereal; 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal; 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
Vegetables21 cup raw or cooked vegetable or 100% vegetable juice; 2 cups raw leafy green vegetables
Fruits21/2 cup canned fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit
Milk31 cup milk or yogurt; 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese; 2 ounces processed cheese (dairy or soy)
Meats and beans51 ounce meat, fish, or poultry; 1/4 cup cooked beans; 1 egg; 1 tablespoon peanut butter; 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds; 1.5-2 ounces firm tofu
Oils, fats, and sugarGood source of calories, but these may be limited by prescribed dietsVegetable oils (canola, olive oil), sauces, salad dressings, sugar, syrup, butter, margarine, jelly, jam, candy

“Power” Foods and Food Groups to Help With Wound Healing

Protein: Meats, beans, eggs, milk and yogurt particularly Greek yogurt), tofu, soy nuts, soy protein products
Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, tomato juice, peppers, baked potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
Vitamin A: Dark green, leafy vegetables, orange or yellow vegetables, cantaloupe, fortified dairy products, liver, fortified cereals
Zinc: Fortified cereals, red meats, seafood
If you are not eating well:
  1. Eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. Instead of trying to eat three big meals a day, try eating smaller meals and snacks between meals to get enough nutrition.
    Make snacks nutritious. Examples of snacks: cheese and crackers, glass of milk, cottage cheese and fruit, ½ small sandwich, milkshake, peanut butter on crackers or celery, fruit or fruit juices.
  2. Some foods that taste good during recovery are not very nutritious. Try replacing them with foods that contain good sources of protein, vitamins, calories, and minerals. For example:
    Instead ofTry this
    brothbeef vegetable soup
    plain jellofruited jello
    carbonated beveragesmilk, milkshakes, fruit smoothie
    Italian ice/popsiclesice cream, frozen fruit bar, frozen yogurt
  3. If there are taste changes, try a variety of foods to find out what works for you. You may find that cold foods and foods with little odor work best. For example, cottage cheese, cereals, cheesy entrees such as cheese ravioli and macaroni and cheese, or chicken or tuna salad may be tastier than beef.
  4. Use oral nutritional supplements if nothing else works. These are available at grocery stores, drug stores, and discount chains. All the supplements will vary in taste, so if you don't like the first one, try another brand. Also, blending with milk, fruit or frozen fruit, or ice cream may make the supplement tastier.
  5. Take a daily multivitamin with minerals if you are unable to eat the “Suggested Minimum Amount of Food Per Day” listed above.

If you have diabetes or high blood sugar

Continue to monitor your blood sugar levels closely. Having good control of blood sugar levels will help with wound healing and may prevent infection. You may need to visit your doctor and a registered dietitian to help control blood sugar through diet and medication.


Make an appointment with a registered dietitian if your appetite remains poor, your wound is not healing well, and/or you are losing weight.

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