The Importance of Nutrition in Rehabilitation

Surgery, an injury or a medical event such as a stroke or heart attack can create havoc in the body. A critical and often overlooked factor in aiding recovery from such events is nutrition. The right nutrients can help a body heal more quickly.

There are several conditions that can exacerbate pain and slow recovery, including inflammation, obesity, osteoarthritis, autoimmune diseases and Type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that eating the correct nutrients can ease or even eliminate these conditions. Here are some nutrient that help heal the body more quickly after a medical event.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps grow and repair tissue in the body and helps in the production of collagen, a protein that is the main component of connective tissues. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds (it is particularly useful after surgery) and helps repair and maintain healthy bones. Because Vitamin C is water soluble, which means your body can’t store it, so you need to replenish it often. Because the body doesn’t store Vitamin C, it’s hard to get too much in your diet, although many nutritionists say you shouldn’t exceed 2,000 milligram a day. Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, red bell and chili peppers, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A aids cells reproduce, which is an integral part of wound healing. It also helps reduce the risk of infection. Because the body stores Vitamin A, it’s important not to take too much. The current recommended daily allowance for Vitamin A is 3,000 IU for men and 2,300 IU for women. Good sources of Vitamin A include liver, salmon, and eggs. Foods high in carotenoids, which the body can convert into Vitamin A (to varying degrees – many people carry a genetic mutation that reduces their ability to covert carotenoids into Vitamin A) include carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, collards and spinach.


Zinc benefits the body by helping to maintain the structural integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. It also helps in cell division, which is how new tissue is created. It also strengthens the immune system. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, shrimp, spinach, and cashews.


Protein provides the necessary building blocks to repair tissue and muscle. They also help fight infection and help in collagen formation. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Vegetarians can dine on beans, lentils, and soy for their protein needs.


Staying hydrated is essential for the healing process. Fluids lubricate joints, help deliver oxygen to muscles and remove waste from the body.

What to avoid

In addition to adding key nutrients to you diet, there are certain foods you should avoid. You should limit your intake of refined sugars as they cause inflammation in your tissues and fatigue due to the fluctuations in blood sugar. Avoid processed food as much as possible as they tend to be high in not only sugar, but fat, sodium and chemical additives, which can all increase inflammation. 

Five-Star Restaurant Dining at Alden

One of the things you’ll enjoy at Alden’s Short-Term Rehabilitation Centers is our famous five-star restaurant dining that not only focuses on nutrition but on taste as well. We understand being pampered also aids in healing so we have created a nurturing environment that speeds recovery. Mealtime is an important time at all of our facilities, providing the opportunity to socialize with other patients and enjoy tasty cuisine in a beautiful setting. Our goal is to provide everything and more patients need during their rehabilitation stay, including wellness dining, so all they need to do is focus on therapy, getting better and getting back home.

Click play below to listen to our podcast on rehabilitation.