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Healing Strategies
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Every human being possesses an amazing capacity to bounce back from illness and injury – under the right conditions. The following strategies for healing come from the book Super Healing by Dr. Julie Silver, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Silver stresses three basic fundamentals of recovery: how you eat, how you sleep, and how you move. It may seem simplistic, yet these three factors work synergistically to aid the body’s healing processes – speeding them if done properly, damaging them if neglected.

Fundamentals of Recovery

1. Be smart about nutrition.
We hear plenty about eating to avoid disease. But once you’re sick, there are also foods to help you get better. For example, skin and bones need Vitamin A to repair themselves (carrots, squash, broccoli, kale). Vitamin C is crucial to the formation of collagen, the main protein of our connective tissue that is essential to super healing (citrus fruits, green peppers, berries, leafy greens). Eating at least five servings daily of these fresh “super foods” is one of the best things you can do for your body. In addition, you can eat complex carbohydrates (legumes, seeds, whole grains) that have relatively low glycemic indexes. (One reliable source for finding the glycemic index of foods is www.glycemicindex.com). When it comes to proteins, plant-based proteins such as beans and nuts have some advantages over animal proteins because they provide phytochemicals (which can help with healing) as well as fiber.

2. Make sleep a priority
. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. During an illness you may need more rest than that because some of your body’s healing processes require sleep to work. If you’re losing sleep because of pain, stress or medications, talk with your doctor. Sometimes a simple change like cutting back on caffeine or alcohol (which can interfere with restful sleep) makes a big difference.

3. Get yourself moving
. It may seem inconsistent to say that people who desperately need rest also desperately need to move their bodies around, but it’s true. If the benefits of exercise could be packaged as a pill, it would be the most popular prescription drug available, says Dr. Silver. Proper exercise improves the healing of muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. It also appears to decrease the formation of excessive scar tissue. Check with your doctor to see which types of exercise are right for you. Even if you have a medical condition such as arthritis you can still do non-weight bearing exercises.

Illness, disease and injury may be unavoidable parts of life, but you can hasten your recovery by making wise lifestyle choices. Your body wants to heal. And you can help that process.

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By Brenda Forbes Dickerson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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