How what you eat affects recovery
A caveat – neither Jo nor Amanda (co-authors of this article) are qualified nutritionists. This is written from a physio knowledge. We do spend time researching and listening to people who know better and these are our opinions.
Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
All food is not equal and all calories are certainly not equal. The way you eat, what, when and even HOW you eat can profoundly affect not only your general health and wellbeing but your chance of injury or illness and your ability to recover from it.
Food is our body’s fuel and if you feed it rubbish it is more than likely to perform that way.
Our bodies are extraordinary and are able to adapt and repair after exercise or injury. This adaptation involves the rebuilding (on a micro level) of broken-down tissues. This is a normal and healthy process which happens all the time in our bodies. However, in order for it to happen effectively and efficiently we need to provide the correct building blocks for your cells to allow repair and growth.
Clients often ask us what supplements they should be taking or what they should eat in order to recover faster or reduce pain. The simple truth is that you should try to eat SIMPLE, UNPROCESSED, MAINLY PLANT BASED, WHOLE FOODS! When you are consistently eating a healthy and balanced diet most people do not require any extra supplementation. In fact this alone will often be enough to not only improve recovery but can alleviate or abolish other health problems in the process.
If you eat predominantly whole foods, your diet should be comprised primarily of:
- Root vegetables
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meats/fish (these are optional and not essential)
In addition, spices, herbs and small amounts of oil (olive oil etc) can be part of a healthy diet.
Anything else should be eaten occasionally and sparingly. Having said this, you do not need to deny yourself of your favourite take away, chocolate bar or night out, but these should be occasional and not every day. What you choose to eat needs to be a sustainable and enjoyable experience for you.
This is a complex topic and worth educating yourself on. There is so much information and research available now which all highlights the importance of diet and gut health. If you are not familiar with what your microbiome is then it is worth finding out because looking after it may just change your life!
This information is for education only, it is not exhaustive and not prescriptive. Every individual is different. If you have a medical condition, bowel issues or eating disorder or any other concerns regarding your health then you should consult your doctor or a qualified practitioner before changing your diet.
For more information on how to eat a healthy diet look or have a listen here…
I’ve never been hugely fit, muscle bound or skinny – neither have I been vastly overweight for long periods of time. I consider myself pretty average. My relationship with food and drink (alcohol) is positive in that I enjoy eating and drinking and negative in that, like many other humans, I really enjoy too much of the stuff that’s not so great.
I’ve never followed a diet regime. I’m cynical that any particular diet is anything more than a fashion, fad, trend, social media influencer with someone making some big bucks out of it. Be careful out there; if there was one magic diet regime for all humans we would all know about it. Until we get to the stage of individual testing to see how much your genes, diet, environment, immune system and gut microbiome affect your health and weight, we are all playing a bit of guess work as to what our bodies like – but do listen to your body, ‘your gut feeling’.
For instance, as a younger person I used to think people who went gluten free, or alcohol free or something else free were a bit precious! Here’s my truth, when I spend time drinking less or no alcohol and eating less gluten, I feel better – but that’s just me. Anecdotally, I have attended physio conferences where we have discussed the gluten free option and clients reporting significant benefits in joint pain or recovery from injury – but actually there may not be any real substance to this. It may be that cutting down on one thing in your diet leads to you thinking a bit more about what you eat and adds variety.
Here’s a good read from a well-known rheumatologist who has looked at all things dietary in his books ‘The Diet Myth’ and ‘Spoon-Fed’
For advice on how much alcohol is too much have a read of this – not with a glass of wine in hand! 14 units per week for all humans in the UK is the recommended limit. That’s 2 glasses 125ml of wine a day or 2 pints of beer or a double G&T….and it is also suggested that you don’t save it all up and blow the amount in one night!
For information about sugar and ‘free’ sugar (the bad stuff) have a read of this. 7 teaspoons is our recommended limit
What about eating fats? The British Heart Foundation explain this well
And the organisation Diabetes UK has some great diet advice with a simple test online
And lastly is there anything you can do for diet and arthritis? Again you will find most of the comments echo Jo’s food suggestions at the beginning of this article
We hope some of these links and little anecdotes may help. We recommend, again, you speak with a qualified dietician/nutritionist if you want to delve deeper and be more specific about your own food and health relationship.