The Immune System and Wound Healing
Watermelon contains vitamins and nutrients that boost immune function and protect against wound infection.
Wound healing relies on a wide variety of factors, from the types of dressings you choose to use to the amount of moisture in the wound bed. In general, the substances you put in your body have a huge effect on your ability to grow new tissue, which is why eating right is so important. Your body requires vitamins, nutrients, fats, protein and other essential elements for cellular growth, movement and development. The right foods can also greatly improve your immune function, which is necessary for speedy recovery, scar minimization and defense against wound infection. Read on to learn more about nutrition and immune function, and their role in healing.
Immune function’s effect on recovery
A healthy immune system can greatly improve the body’s ability to heal by reducing the risk of infection. When a wound becomes infected, the progression of the wound healing stages becomes hindered. When harmful bacteria take over the wound and begin to multiply, the inflammatory phase prolongs and the healthy clotting mechanism is interrupted. In effect, the leukocyte function become suppressed and the body has difficulty developing new granulation tissues and blood vessels. According to a study published in Wounds International, the immune system helps defend the body against these harmful bacteria, and it is also key in regulating inflammation which, if excessive, can hinder the healing process.
As people age, their immune systems naturally become weaker. For this reason, older people are more susceptible to infection. Additionally, poor immune function can mean a higher risk of other chronic diseases that can negatively affect the body’s ability to heal, such as conditions that restrict circulation and oxygenation to the affected area.
Proper nutrition to boost immune function
There are many things you can do to enhance the immune system. Quitting smoking, minimizing alcohol intake and following a healthy sleep schedule are all key. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prevent a wound infection through strong wound function is to maintain a nutritious diet. It’s essential to ensure that you get the right amounts of zinc, carbs, fats and vitamins A, B and C, all of which are essential to recovery. Talk to a clinician about incorporating some of these immune-boosting foods into your diet:
- Mushrooms have high levels of selenium. Low levels of this element have been linked to a higher risk of catching the flu. These fungi are also bursting with antioxidants, vitamin B and niacin.
- Acai berries are superfood that are rife with toxin-fighting anthocyanins.
- Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and are widely believed to fight inflammation.
- Oysters are known to contain ample amounts of zinc, which serve as antivirals and have the ability to reduce inflammation and minimize bacterial reproduction.
- Grapefruit’ contains flavonoids, a compound chemical that improves immune system activation, so that the body more swiftly responds to potentially harmful bacteria invading the wound bed. Tangerines, oranges and other citruses tend to contain flavonoids as well.
- Watermelon contains a potent antioxidant called glutathione – it’s found in the red, grainy flesh right near the rind and is beneficial in fighting of infection during the wound healing process.
- Cabbage is extremely dense with vitamins and nutrients, including glutamine, an immune strengthening element that can help you prevent infection.
- Almonds are useful in reducing stress, which can actually work to weaken the immune system. These nuts also contain vitamin E, which directly benefit the body’s ability to fight against harmful microorganisms.