Protein supplements may help enhance the wound healing process.

Many factors affect the wound healing process, and one of the biggest is your nutritional status. According to the National Institutes of Health, neglecting to maintain good nutrition can compromise one’s ability to heal and in effect prolong the stages of recovery. Balanced glucose levels, sufficient vitamin C and ample calcium, for instance, are important for healing. Another big contributor to recovery from wounds is protein.

How protein affects wound healing

Protein aids the body in repairing damaged tissues. As the NIH points out, deficiency in protein has been shown to contribute to poor healing rates. When your body doesn’t get enough of this essential element, it has a difficult time forming collagen. Unfortunately, the wound healing process further exacerbates protein loss, as the body can lose up to 100 milligrams of protein per day due to exudation, or fluid leakage from the affected area. For this reason, a high protein diet is essential during recovery.

Getting enough protein

The best way to get enough protein is to eat a nutritious diet. Incorporate a variety of colors into your daily meals to ensure a wide variety of vitamins, and opt for whole-grain breads, rice and pastas over white. When it comes to protein intake, you should select lean meats, seafood and poultry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women age 31-50 who engage in moderate physical activity consume 5 ounces of protein foods per day. For men in this population group, 6 ounces is recommended. The foods in this group include any product made from meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, peas, nuts, soy and seeds. Dairy products also tend to have high amounts of protein – 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of milk has 8 grams of protein.

Boosting your protein

Since the body requires higher levels of protein during the wound healing process, you may want to take a protein supplement to enhance and accelerate recovery. These products generally come in a powder form and can be added to a glass of water or into other foods, such as soups, milk shakes and sauces. Liquid protein beverages are also available, as are high-protein nutritional bars. Be sure to consult a clinician before beginning a supplement regimen.