We have all had a wound—a cut, scratch or scrape that breaks the skin. For most people, wounds heal quickly when kept clean and free of infection, while other types of wounds are more serious and often require medical intervention. These can include decubitus ulcers, also known as pressure sores or bed sores, which develop when you stay in one position for too long. Pressure sores usually form where your bones are close to skin, such as your back, buttocks, ankles, elbows, heels and hips.
Circulation is an essential part of the body’s natural wound-healing process, as the blood delivers oxygen to the wound and helps to fight infection. That is why every wound is a health concern and often requires medical intervention for diabetics. Having high blood glucose levels can cause the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the feet and legs.
Your doctor is right in telling you to focus on having proper nutrition to improve wound healing. Nutrition plays an important role in how fast your wound heals and how well your body fights off infection. Having a poor diet can turn a normal wound into a chronic wound that may not get better.
I recommend following these simple nutrition tips to help you improve wound healing.
-One of the most important nutrition tips I tell patients is to eat enough calories from a balanced diet of nutritious foods. Make sure to plan healthy, balanced meals and snacks that incorporate all foods from the MyPlate food groups — protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains.
-Protein also helps repair the damaged tissue from your wounds so make sure to include optimal amounts of protein. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal and 10 to 15 grams of protein with each snack. Some great protein options include eggs, beans, plain Greek yogurt and eating cooked chicken, lean meat or fish about the size of a deck of cards.
-You should also stay well-hydrated with water and other unsweetened beverages. Avoid sodas, alcohol and sweetened juices.
-Some wounds may require a higher intake of certain vitamins and minerals. Talk with a registered dietitian for an individualized eating plan with optimum amounts of calories, protein, fluids, vitamins and minerals for your specific needs. Some vitamins interact with blood thinners and this should be evaluated.
Since you are diabetic, it important that you continue to monitor your blood sugar level. Controlling your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to help with wound healing and prevent infection. You can work with your doctor and a registered dietitian to develop a personalized blood sugar management plan.
Kelly Eells, APNP, BC, CWON is a certified wound & ostomy nurse with HFM General & Vascular Surgery Wound Services.