Food for muscle regeneration and healing?

Originally Published: December 24, 2010
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Dear Alice,

I'm about to have rotator cuff surgery and repair some torn muscle. What natural healing foods can I eat to reduce the inflammation as well as increase the speed of healing of the muscle??

Dear Reader,

What foods have anti-inflammatory as well as immune-supporting properties? This list of foods to eat in preparation for (and after) surgery may sound somewhat familiar. These are foods frequently cited as supporting good health, in general. Here's a handy checklist.

Eat more:

  • Foods with lots of omega-3 fatty acids, including leafy greens, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, and fish
  • Antioxidant-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, spinach, carrots, peppers, squash, garlic, and onions; green and black teas, too
  • High-fiber foods, which include many listed above as well as whole grains, fruits, and veggies
  • Soy, including tempeh, tofu, miso, and soy beans can be anti-inflammatory and are also protein-rich, which helps to regenerate muscle
  • Spices, such as nutmeg, ginger, cayenne, oregano
  • Honey, which may have immune-boosting properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and also goes well in your green or black tea

There are also foods that may be less helpful. Try to eat less of these:

  • Omega-6 foods and foods high in saturated fats such as peanut, cottonseed, or corn oils, as well as foods with a long shelf-life (cookies, crackers, chips)
  • Dairy
  • Red meats
  • Simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, bagels, cereals, instant rice, wheat in general
  • Eggs
  • Artificial colors and flavors

The foods in the second list are quite prevalent in kitchens around the U.S. Depending on your cultural upbringing and the foods you are accustomed to eating and preparing, prioritizing foods in that first list may take a bit more effort, but will likely be well worth it.

Best of luck,

Alice