Although the complex mechanism behind healing and the formation of scars is quite capable of full recovery, it does require plenty of support. This support comes in the form of nutrients from your diet.
What does your diet have to do with this? Well, the skin is a sensitive organ and, seeing as it is the largest one you have, it requires a lot of nutriment to rebuild and repair to return as close as possible to the condition it was in before the injury.
Many of the different growth factors that are responsible for healing of wounds need precursors and regulators that govern their function. All these are the result of various biological compounds that are sourced from the diet.
It is no wonder, therefore, that there are plenty of recommendations out there to have a diversified and healthy diet in order to have a glowing skin. Many conditions that denigrate the integrity of the skin are a direct result of poor diet and the ensuing malnutrition. Kwashiorkor, marasmus, pellagra and scurvy are a few of the well-known skin-affecting conditions whose roots lead back to malnutrition.
SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES NUTRITION BEING TO THE TABLE REGARDING WOUND HEALING?
The nutrients present in you are the Lego bricks used by the body to put together the complex structure that is your skin. They are divided in two; the macronutrients and the micronutrients. The former include proteins, carbohydrates and fats whereas the latter include a multitude of vitamins and minerals and trace elements.
Proteins: Proteins are the very bricks used in the construction of the wall that is the skin. Throughout the stages of wound healing, it is mainly proteins at work. From haemostasis, inflammation to proliferation and reorganisation of the new tissue, it is proteins at work. The growth factors and cytokines are proteins. The same applies to the fibrin used to clot and the collagen deposited to recreate the extracellular matrix. Proteins!
Carbohydrates: Every cellular process in the body requires energy to take place and carbohydrates are the source. In wound healing in particular, energy from carbohydrates is especially required during the fibroblast proliferation stage. If you recall, fibroblasts take charge of the formation of the new extracellular matrix as well as calling on macrophages and neutrophils via chemotaxis.
Fats: Fats are also a source of energy needed for high metabolic activity. Wound healing definitely qualifies as one of such bodily activities. Apart from being a source of energy, fats are also need in the creation of the dermal layers, and cell walls many of which contain a considerable amount of fat.
WHAT MICRONUTRIENTS PULL THEIR WEIGHT IN THE PROCESS OF WOUND HEALING?
Micronutrients are required in small doses in the body, but they do pack a punch regarding the work they do therein.
Some of the main ones include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin found mainly in vegetables, does a lot during the later stages of wound healing. It plays a big role in epithelial proliferation and well as maintenance of the collagen fibre that has been laid down. It inhibits various collagenases that break down collagen.
The vitamin B complex is found in dairy, meat, fish and vegetables. This set of 8 water soluble compounds mainly serves to promote cell proliferation as well as maintain muscle tone whilst increasing immunity.
Thiamine, a member of this set, is particularly essential. Lack of it results in decreased wound healing.
Vitamin C is a cofactor in the synthesis of collagen and also helps in the uptake and metabolism of other nutrients like iron. Speaking of, iron is vital in the formation of haemoglobin; the compound that carries oxygen to the tissues. In the hypoxic environment that is the wound bed, oxygen is needed to facilitate the healing process.
WHY IS NUTRITION IMPORTANT IN THE HEALING OF SEVERE WOUNDS?
Severe wounds like burns are usually chronic and therefore take on the secondary form of healing. This means that the wound edges cannot be closed and the healing process will take longer than normal.
In such instances, the patient has to be nutritionally robust, providing the body will all that it needs in order to carry out the repair. A study dealing with the wound healing response also noted that it is also important to focus on the food intake just before a surgical procedure because this provides the required energy for the healing process.
Apart from the nutritional requirements, the body needs plenty of energy to go on with this work. It is for this reason, therefore, that severe burn patients can lose weight as the body draws on its reserves. If this resting energy expenditure exceeds its value by 1.2 times, chances are the patient will not survive. High protein and high energy diets immediately after admission should try to offset this catabolic imbalance.
Nutrition and wound care. (2018). [image] Available at: https://hellocaremail.com.au/wound-healing-and-nutrition-nestle/ [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].
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Hart, D. W., Wolf, S. E., Herndon, D. N., Chinkes, D. L., Lal, S. O., Obeng, M. K., … Mlcak RT, R. P. (2002). Energy Expenditure and Caloric Balance After Burn: Increased Feeding Leads to Fat Rather Than Lean Mass Accretion. Annals of Surgery, 235(1), 152–161.
Windsor, J. A., Knight, G. S., & Hill, G. L. (1988). Wound healing response in surgical patients: recent food intake is more important than nutritional status. British Journal of Surgery, 75(2), 135-137.
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