Wounds must be well-fed to heal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2022

March is recognized as National Nutrition Month. Good nutrition is extremely important to our overall health and wellbeing, but did you know it is also a key “ingredient” in healing?

“Nutrition plays an essential role in wound healing. Nutritional support is a fundamental part of wound management. Poor nutrition during the healing process can delay healing and impair wound strength, making the wound more prone to breakdown,” said Alicia Bergeron, LPN, certified wound care nurse.

While healing, your body is busy adding new tissue, replacing fluids lost from possible wound drainage and maybe even fighting infection—no wonder it needs a little extra nutrition to get it all done! If you are actively trying to heal a wound, your body needs increased amounts of calories, protein and vitamins. Check out our nutrition tips to support healing.

Nutrients Needed for Enhanced Wound Healing

Calories—you need about 15 calories per pound of body weight each day. For a 150-pound person, this adds up to 2,250 calories a day during wound healing. To determine daily calorie needs, multiply your weight by 15 to get a close calculation of your daily needs.

Protein—Protein is required to promote new tissue growth. The average sedentary man requires about 56 grams a day, and a woman approximately 46 grams. For a quick reference, a three-ounce chicken breast contains about 21 grams of protein and one cup of dried beans contains about 16 grams of protein.

Fluids—Drink extra fluids to help kidneys process the extra protein and replace fluids lost from wounds. If wounds are heavily draining, drink even more. You need about 0.5 fluid ounces per pound per day. A 150-pound person needs 75 ounces a day during wound healing.

Vitamin C—You need 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day during the healing stage. It is best to obtain vitamin C from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Avoid drinking too much juice, because you will miss out on fiber while possibly adding too much sugar intake. Eat the apple, if possible, versus drinking the apple juice.

Vitamin A—A dose of 20,000-25,000 IU per day is typically recommended for 10 days during wound healing. This vitamin should only be taken only as recommended by your provider. Vitamin A can help decrease the negative effects of steroid treatments you are receiving for wound healing.

Vitamin B Complex—Vitamin B Complex helps to metabolize carbohydrates and proteins to produce energy, which is essential for cell growth. It also aids in the prevention of anemia—a lack of healthy red bloods needed to transport oxygen to your wound.

Trace Minerals—You need a trace of zinc, iron and copper for healing difficult wounds.

Fat—Yes, there is such a thing as “good fat.” Fat helps to decrease inflammation and helps keep your blood sugar stable.

Arginine—Arginine is an amino acid that has been shown to enhance healing in certain people.

 

Nutrition Suggestions during Wound Healing

  • Take a good quality multivitamin which contains at least the RDA (recommended daily amount) of zinc, iron and copper. Add foods containing vitamin C, vitamin A and the trace minerals.
  • If you are having difficulty getting in the recommended amount of protein, try a protein supplement such as Juven, Boost, Ensure or Carnation Instant Breakfast. Consider adding a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter to your protein supplement to enhance the flavor. You can also find recipes for protein shakes on the internet or in health magazines.
  • If you do not feel you can eat three large meals per day, try eating five or six small meals and snacks.
  • As always, remember to talk to your doctor when making dietary changes and considering nutritional supplements.

 

St. James Parish Hospital Wound Care Clinic incorporates an interdisciplinary care plan for patients with non-healing wounds. To schedule an appointment with the wound care team, call 1-877-295-2273.