How to eat well to help your body heal

If you have ever wondered if there was anything else you could be doing to help your injury heal more quickly, then the answer is yes.

Eating high quality, nutritious foods will not only provide the fuel and building blocks for faster healing but also reduce your risk of getting an injury in the future.

Nutrients are either categorised as essential or non-essential. Essential nutrients are what you must get from your diet, meaning your body cannot beg, borrow, steal or manufacture them. These include amino acids (the building blocks of protein), Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), vitamins and minerals.


The word protein comes from the greek meaning ‘first importance’. So the first thing to consider when looking at your overall nutritional requirements is whether or not you are getting enough protein. A good goal is to aim for between 1.5 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight.

This is higher than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) but it’s important to understand that the RDA advises on the minimum amount your body requires to ensure you aren’t nutritionally deficient, rather than the optimal amount of protein needed to help heal the body from injury or recover from regular training.

This doesn’t necessarily mean eating meat or animal derived products. Vegetarians and Vegans can combine foods to create whole proteins very effectively.

Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3 and 6)

EFAs are the fats you must get from your diet, as your body is unable to store them. Omega-3 is found in fish, some meats and flaxseeds with Omega-6 being found in nuts and seeds.

The key here is to ensure you are getting them from a variety of sources and the good news is that increasing your healthy fats intake can cause your body to burn more calories at rest. Consuming EFAs can also reduce chronic inflammation within the body and lead to improvements in skin and hair health, improved reproductive function, stronger bones and the health of your muscles, tendons and ligaments (your soft tissues).

Vitamins and minerals

We recommend considering a supplement with extra Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc.

Vitamin D

Good levels of Vitamin D in your body will improve injury and wound healing and can decrease the risk of many chronic illnesses.

Our main source is from exposure to sunlight (UVB) which triggers our skin to make Vitamin D. However there are times of the year (September to April) when, depending on where you live, little UVB reaches the earth’s surface so it’s impossible for you to make any Vitamin D and this may last up to 6 months of every year. Also, if you use a sun block of SPFA 8 or more during the summer months, it can block absorption of UVB by as much as 50%. Of course, we’re not advising anyone not to use sun cream, rather just highlighting the reasons why you might want to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement year round and suggesting that you might want to consider increasing the amount you are taking when you have an injury.

Vitamin D is better absorbed in larger doses. So rather than taking a small dose daily, we recommend dividing your weekly dosage into two larger amounts, e.g if you take 7000iu’s per week, take 4000iu’s on a Monday and 3000iu’s on a Thursday.


Calcium not only improves bone health but also has a role to play in soft tissue repair.

So if you are injured, it can really help to increase the amount of leafy green vegetables in your diet (an excellent source of calcium), even if you are taking a supplement which has this element in it.

To help you absorb the Calcium, you must also ingest a source of Magnesium and Vitamin D. Luckily magnesium is also found in leafy greens but if you’re not a fan of spinach then you can also find it in nuts, brown rice and wholegrain bread. Mushrooms and fortified foods like cereal are good sources of Vitamin D.


Zinc is a major player in every stage of repair in your body.

Not having enough Zinc in your body (Zinc deficiency) slows down tissue healing and increasing the levels of this element will accelerate recovery.

Beef, chicken, tofu, pork, nuts, seeds, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal and mushrooms are all very high in Zinc, so excellent sources.

Final thoughts …

The quality of your food should be the very best that your budget can allow, although price does not always dictate quality.

Sleep quality and quantity also plays a vital role in recovery, so for tips on improving your sleep quality you can read more here.

If you have any questions about optimising your recovery from injury, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Cambridge Massage Therapy Team