A balanced diet is always a good idea. When your body is repairing itself, it’s especially helpful. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re eating and drinking your way back to a full recovery.

Foods to choose

  • Vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies. Oranges, berries, tomatoes, winter squash, and red and green peppers are just a few examples of produce that are high in Vitamin C, which is helpful with wound healing and with the building of bone and cartilage.

  • Yogurt is high in vitamins and nutrients that promote recovery. It is an excellent source of zinc, which is crucial to the wound healing process.

  • Dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese, are high in both bone-strengthening calcium and Vitamin D, which the body needs to absorb calcium. If dairy is not a part of your diet, you can get a similar boost from dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli or bok choy.

  • Olive oil, in addition to heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, also contains a compound known as oleocanthal, which some believe can reduce inflammation in a way that’s similar to aspirin or ibuprofen.

  • Omega 3-rich fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and lake trout delivers a healthy boost of muscle-maintaining protein.  According to some studies, it may also reduce inflammation that contributes to morning joint stiffness or pain. Not a fish fan? You can get a similar boost from walnuts, flaxseeds, or soybean products, such as edamame or tofu.

And one to avoid

  • Alcohol. Drinking can interfere with medications such as antibiotics — causing them to lose their effectiveness and potentially putting you at risk of a severe reaction. It can also weaken your immune system, lowering your body’s ability to fight off infection.

Another way a healthy diet promotes healing

A well-balanced diet that promotes healing may also promote weight loss — especially if portions are under control. And that could contribute to better health outcomes down the line. A 2014 study done by the Hospital for Special Surgery found that knee-replacement patients who managed to lose weight had better activity levels, better function, and less pain than those who maintained or gained weight after surgery.