Good Nutrition Is Essential to Wound Healing
Good nutrition, including an increase in the right type of calories, is the one common treatment requirement across all types of wounds. This is because the presence of a chronic wound raises the metabolic demands of our immune system.
Additional calories from foods rich in protein and vitamins are needed to create blood cells to fight infection and to regenerate tissue cells for skin closure. The presence of a chronic wound can increase calorie requirements by 50% and protein requirements by up to 250% just to maintain current lean body mass (LBM).1
Advanced Age Can Lead to Loss of Appetite
Loss of lean body mass due to insufficient calorie intake is a significant issue for people of advanced age and especially those living with a chronic wound. This is true across socio-economic backgrounds as the leading cause of decreased food intake is the loss of appetite. Factors that can contribute to a loss of interest in eating include:
- certain medications
- lessened senses, loss of taste or smell
- lack of mobility
- depression or loneliness
- limited access to healthy meals
One way to ensure you, or someone you care for, is consuming enough calories is to plan five or six small meals instead of aiming for three large meals. Another method is to include calorie-enriched beverages as snacks such as smoothies or milkshakes with added protein.
Wound Healing Requires Zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin C
Protein is essential for cell health and development so it plays a key role in all stages of wound healing. New white blood cells are needed to fight infections and new skin cells must replace damaged tissue. Zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin C aid in the creation of collagen for tissue repair and skin cell regeneration.
Each day, you should aim to consume two to three servings of protein and at least two servings of foods high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc.
Foods that Help Wounds Heal Faster
- dried beans
- dark green, leafy vegetables
- fortified dairy products
- orange fruits
- orange or yellow vegetables
- citrus fruits
- fortified cereals
- red meats
Your doctor may have recommended a specific diet and you should follow their instructions. If you have not discussed nutrition, be sure to ask about your caloric needs at your next visit.
Whether you are living with a non-healing wound or helping to care for someone who is, make nutrition a part of your healing plan. You can find more information about wound healing on our 2021 The Year of Healing webpage.