As with almost all injuries there are three main phases of healing when you've got a serious injury, such as a bone-fracture. The nutritional demands of each phase are slightly different but there are some recurrent themes throughout.
Immediately after a fracture a blood clot forms. This causes the influx of inflammatory ‘cleanup’ cells. Cytokines then flood the area to and bring ‘repair’ cells into the fracture site. These then differentiate into specialised cells that that build new bone tissue (osteoblasts) and new cartilage (chondroblasts). Taking B vitamins, antioxidants and ZMA alongside an anti-inflammatory diet is crucial in this stage.
This begins around two weeks after the fracture occurred. In this stage, proteins produced by the osteoblasts and chondroblasts begin to consolidate into a soft callus. This soft, new bone substance eventually hardens into a hard callus as the bone knits together over a 6 – 12 week period. Amino acids and vitamin C are crucial in this stage as vitamin C converts proline to hydroxyproline - which is major component to collagen.
This is where the bone substance begins to mature and remodel itself into stronger lamellar bone via the bone formation cells. Vitamin D, K and calcium are vital in this stage.
THE NUTRITIONAL DEMANDS OF HEALING
Every stage of the fracture healing process has increased nutritional needs. Importantly, the healing process requires a lot of energy, which is acquired through calories in food. However, we need to have a balance between supporting healing and increasing body fat. Additionally, the fracture requires a constant supply of amino acids – in particular lysine, proline and glycine. Finally, the trauma of the fracture itself creates an increase in free radicals (pro-oxidants), resulting in oxidative stress that can lower the body’s antioxidant reserves.
FOODS TO FOCUS ON
● Wild salmon
● Greek yoghurt
● Dark coloured fruits such as berries and cherries
● Collagen rich foods such as bone broth and game meats
● Pulses - black beans, lentils and gluten free grains will provide minerals and b-vitamins
● Lots of green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, courgette and spinach
About the Author: Liam is a writer, personal trainer & performance nutritionist based out of London who currently works with Copenhagen F.C. Read more about Liam's work here.