Whether you’ve been working out hard and are feeling the impact of those long runs or you’ve recently been injured or had surgery, your body is in a constant state of healing and renewal –  and when you’re healing, one thing you should focus on is nutrition. While good nutrition is always important to your overall health, there are certain foods that, when included in your diet, can help to facilitate healing, making your feel better sooner.

If you want to improve your body’s ability to heal, here are 3 foods you should add to your diet. These foods contain uniquely important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can turn your body into a healing powerhouse.

Count On Carrots

When you were a kid, your parents might have told you that carrots were a good food for protecting yours eyes – and while it may have been phrased like an old wives tale, they were right. Carrots contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. But that’s not all carrots are good for.

Carrots also contain a lot of vitamins C and A, both of which contribute to wound healing. Vitamin C can help strengthen newly healed skin while vitamin A helps to protect against infection. Carrots are great because they’re easy to slip into a range of foods and juices and make a tasty raw snack, but unlike many other foods, nutrients are more bioavailable when cooked, so steaming or lightly sauteeing them is a great choice.

Friendly Fats

For the most part we are encouraged to consume low fat diets, but one time when fats may be especially important is when recovering from surgery. Even if you’ve had an endoscopic procedure – these involve only small incisions and are considered a minimally invasive type of surgery – you’ll have wounds that need extra care.

Wound healing relies on fats to rebuild cell membranes which are made from fatty acids. Dairy, meats, and cooking oil are all good sources of these important fatty acids. Consuming about a cup of dairy a day can speed your recovery from surgical procedures and build strong new cells.

The Best Bacteria

Certain kinds of bacteria are beneficial to your health rather than detrimental to it, improving your body’s ability to fight disease. These are known as probiotics and while most focus on how they benefit the gastrointestinal system (they aid digestion and can be important for those affected by irritable bowel syndrome), they can also be helpful in fighting skin infections.

You can get your daily serving of probiotics from such foods as yogurt and kefir or you can take a daily supplement. In addition to boosting your probiotic intake to facilitate healing, taking additional probiotics when traveling and upon return can help to restabilize delicate internal bacterial balance.

The best combination of nutrients for you is dependent on your daily activities, body composition, and a range of other health factors, but when it doubt, focus on a balanced diet. By making sure you reach key nutritional intake levels of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, you’ll prime your body for top function under any circumstances.

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