Comprehensive-Healthcare Solutions


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Thanksgiving: A Meal That Heals


This week our wound care patients will most likely enjoy a special feast on Thanksgiving Day. There are many foods served on the traditional menu for this holiday which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids known to enhance wound healing.

The chronic wounds we treat are in the inflammatory, granulation or remodeling/strengthening phases of healing. Good nutrition plays a role in supporting the body to progress through these phases of healing by stimulating macrophage & fibroblast activity and collagen synthesis. Adequate hydration is important as well.  As always, it is important to follow any prescribed therapeutic diets and watch saturated fat, sodium, and carbohydrate intake even during the holidays.

Let’s take a closer look at the wound healing nutrition found in a Thanksgiving feast:

Protein: All phases of healing are delayed when protein intake is not adequate. It is needed for collagen synthesis, angiogenesis, fibroblast proliferation, tissue remodeling, wound contraction, and skin structure. Albumin and pre-albumin levels help us guide healing and interventions particularly in pressure and venous ulcers.

Turkey breast (without the skin) has 34 g protein per serving. As a bonus, it is also high in tryptophan which is a precursor to the mood-boosting neurotransmitter, serotonin. Good mental health contributes to wound healing too!

Vitamin C: A Deficiency causes impaired collagen cross-linking, reduced wound tensile strength, and increased risk for dehiscence. Recommended intake of vitamin C for wound healing is 1000mg per day.
Brussels sprouts contain 48 mg of vitamin C and are one of the top 10 vitamin C food sources. Green beans have 16.9 mg vitamin C (and 2 g of protein) per serving. Cranberries have 14.6 mg per cup. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system too.

Vitamin A: Lack of Vitamin A impairs wound healing by impairing collagen synthesis and cross-linking. Recommended intake as nutritional assistance to heal a stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcer is 5000 IU per 1000 kcal.

One medium-sized, cooked sweet potato contains a whopping 19,218 IU of Vitamin A and is considered the top dietary source of Vitamin A.

Other high sources of vitamin A which might be on your Thanksgiving table are: Carrots: 13,286 IU per ½ cup serving and butternut squash: 11,434 IU per ½ cup serving.

Zinc: A deficiency leads to wound strength reduced, collagen synthesis decreased, slower rate of epithelialization, & decreased immunity. Recommended intake is 220mg/day.
For those who enjoy New England style oyster stuffing, they will consume 66.8 mg zinc per 3 oz. of oysters. Roasted pumpkin and squash seeds deliver 6.6 mg per cup. Munching on an appetizer of cashews results in another 3.4mg per ½ cup.

Glutamine: A non-essential amino acid which becomes depleted when the body is stressed (such as with a chronic wound or infection). Protein is composed of amino acids and glutamine acts as the primary fuel source for rapidly dividing cells. Feast sources: Turkey, coleslaw (cabbage), and the garnish of parsley are rich sources of glutamine.

Arginine: An essential amino acid which enhances collagen production and stimulates the immune function. A serving of roasted turkey breast contains 3,107 mg of arginine while a serving of roasted turkey leg has 2354 mg.

A suggested sweet treat to end this special meal is a baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon. Cinnamon has been shown to help control blood sugar.

Give thanks for a meal that can help heal!

Happy Thanksgiving from Comprehensive Healthcare Solutions!

Arnie Klaus