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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. MyPlate displays the different food groups. To personalize your plan, go to choosemyplate.gov. Click on Super Tracker at the top of the page. Next, click on Create Your Own Plan to obtain a specific nutritional plan to meet your needs based on age, gender, and activity level.

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 Group Number of servings What counts as 1 serving
Grains, using whole grain sources as much as possible 5 1 slice bread; 1/2 cup cooked cereal; 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal; 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
Vegetables 2 1 cup raw or cooked vegetable or 100% vegetable juice; 2 cups raw leafy green vegetables
Fruits 2 1/2 cup canned fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit
Milk 3 1 cup milk or yogurt; 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese; 2 ounces processed cheese (dairy or soy)
Meats and beans 5 1 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 sugar Good source of calories, but these may be limited by prescribed diets Vegetable 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 of Try this
    broth beef vegetable soup
    plain jello fruited jello
    carbonated beverages milk, milkshakes, fruit smoothie
    Italian ice/popsicles ice 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.

Finally

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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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/22/2013...#11111


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