What should I eat to promote healing and reduce scarring? That’s what I asked the medical personnel when I was in the hospital a few years ago.
Because I had various cuts and surgical wounds on my face and body I was anxious to know but they couldn’t tell me anything useful.
Later on I learned that there are certain foods that can help promote wound healing and even reduce scar tissue creation. Also certain vitamin and mineral supplements are known to be beneficial. Different studies confirm such claims.
So, What To Eat and Which Vitamins and Minerals To Take?
Most obviously, and probably needless to point out but for the sake of completeness mentioned anyway, is the importance of a healthy, well balanced diet. Make sure to eat a varied diet. Also, smoking should be avoided at all costs.
One particular nutrient to keep in mind is protein because studies indicate that protein deficiency delays wound (and possibly scar) healing. Proteins provide the body with the building blocks that are required to repair and rebuild. They also help fighting infections.
Other proven effective nutrients are those containing zinc. Animal studies show that zinc deficiency resulted in less quick healing wounds and when dietary zinc was supplemented wound healing times decreased. According to one study report:
“Oral zinc supplementation may be beneficial in treating zinc-deficient leg ulcer patients, but its therapeutic place in surgical patients needs further clarification.” Note: topical zinc application seems to be more efficient.
Studies show that most prominent results are achieved in patients or individuals who have deficiencies of certain nutrients. When a balanced diet without deficiencies is maintained eating these foods in addition might not lead to substantial benefits. An exception is vitamin C:
Clinical studies provide evidence that wound healing in subjects judged not deficient in vitamin C can be significantly accelerated with supplements of this nutrient above the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
This was the conclusion from a study titled Vitamin C and Human Wound Healing conducted on the Department of Oral Diagnosis, University of Alabama School of Dentistry, Birmingham, Ala., USA. Read the abstract here.
There are also indications that certain oral supplements can help heal wounds and reduce scarring. Bromelain, grapefruit seed extract, glutamine, and vitamin A are a few of them. More info here.