March is National Nutrition Month so now is a perfect time to raise awareness of how nutrition affects wound healing. Kevin Shiver, Medical Center Barbour’s Nurse Practitioner of the MCB Wound Care Clinic, explained exactly why eating properly can help heal chronic wounds faster.
“Eating well during wound healing helps a patient to heal faster and fight infection at the same time,” Kevin explains. “During the healing process, your body needs more calories, proteins, fluids and vitamins, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc. The best source of these nutrients is found in food. If a patient is not eating enough healthy foods, they may need to take supplements to expedite wound healing.”
Kevin, who heals patients every day in the MCB Wound Care Clinic, has seen firsthand the difference that proper nutrition can play in his own patients. He explains that wound care healing comes down to very specific processes that the body performs while trying to heal from a chronic wound. “Suboptimal nutrition can, and in most cases does, alter immune function and collagen synthesis, which are processes that are essential in the wound healing process,” he notes. Kevin emphasizes also that it is important to think of food as medicine, especially when it comes to healing wounds.
“When you have a wound that’s healing, always think of food as medicine,” Kevin stresses. “It’s important to remember that certain foods, especially proteins, play an essential role in the healing process. Protein is critical in the building and repairing of muscle, skin, and other body tissues. And of course, it’s very important to avoid a diet high in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. ” Kevin also advises patients to quit smoking, as smoking delays the healing process as well. As Kevin explained, eating nutritious food is crucial to facilitating a faster healing process. Kevin and his staff in the MCB Wound Care Clinic came up with a list of foods that you can incorporate into your diet when trying to heal a chronic wound. If you are a wound care patient, your primary care physician may have recommended a specific diet and you should follow their instructions. If you have not discussed nutrition with your primary care physician, be sure to ask about your caloric needs at your next visit.