Updated: Apr 9, 2019
As critical as we are to the process of wound healing, the body can’t get the job done without some essential ingredients. In fact, nutrition is one of the building blocks of wound healing - all the debridement in the world won’t help the body if it doesn’t have the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to repair and replace damaged tissue.
Do you even lift, bro? Sufficient protein is crucial for rebuilding cells. Protein-rich foods can substantially impact the time it takes wounds to heal, since not only does the body require protein to repair and replace damaged cells, it also has to replace the protein lost in wound exaudate during the healing process. What’s more, many elderly adults don’t get enough protein in their diets. Nuts, beans, legumes, eggs, milk, and even meat are all wonderful sources of protein. If attaining sufficient dietary protein is a challenge for a patient, protein supplements, powders, or liquids can be a great way to speed up the healing process.
2. Vitamin A
Found most easily in orange fruits and vegetables, Vitamin A affects sight as well as the inflammatory process (the old adage about carrots helping you see in the dark has a lot of truth to it!). Although true vitamin A deficiency is rare, many patients - especially those whose diets are sparse in fruits and vegetables - have low levels and can benefit from supplementation or dietary change. Carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, squash, and kale and other leafy greens are all good sources of Vitamin A.
3. Vitamin C
Although we probably think of oranges, lemons, grapefruits, or other citrus when we think about Vitamin C, it can also be found at higher levels in spinach, sweet yellow peppers, kale, kiwi, broccoli, papayas, and strawberries. One of Vitamin C’s most important jobs in the body is helping in collagen formation (collagen is a protein that makes up much of our connective tissue, including, of course, skin). Although getting adequate Vitamin C is essential, there is no scientific evidence that taking large doses will help with wound healing, and excess vitamin C is excreted in urine. So instead of mainlining vitamin C, try to make sure that patients are getting it from whole foods.
Zinc is a trace element, and the second most abundant metallic element in the body after iron. Not only does zinc boost the immune system, it helps strengthen the skin and mucous membranes. Zinc also works hand in hand with vitamin C (ascorbic acid), the presence of which allows the body to absorb zinc. Zinc is in high demand by the body during the wound repair process, and it is common for patients with wounds to have zinc deficiencies. Found in red meat, cashews, lentils, fortified cereals, and shellfish, zinc is an essential part of the wound healing process.
And remember - while you’re paying attention to your patients’ nutrition during National Nutrition Month, don’t forget your own!
Skilled Wound Care is a mobile surgical practice committed to transforming the chronic wound care model in nursing facilities. Wound care experts make weekly bedside visits to patients in long-term care facilities, avoiding transfers to hospitals or clinics. Our expert physicians give patients the most up-to-date and effective wound treatments, and educate facility staff on how to help patients continue to heal quickly and effectively between visits. This model of collaborative care allows SWC’s physicians to improve patients’ lives and health outcomes, to empower nursing staff, and to raise public awareness. Skilled Wound Care, along with its nurse and nursing home partners, is working every day to positively transform traditional nursing home wound care.