Nutrition: One Factor that Aids in Positive Outcomes for Wound Healing
on July 12, 2022
By Heather Trumm, Director, VGM Wound Care
Hello to all the wound care followers out there! I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been hearing buzzwords in the healthcare world like, “outcomes” and “value-based care.” These words describe the way the healthcare continuum is shifting, which is a positive thing. In wound care, we look at many factors to move positive outcomes to the goal of patient healing. Some factors we cannot change, but some we can change, which can actually aid in wound healing. Nutrition is one of those factors and is a topic that is discussed and examined more and more.
Nutrition and Wound Healing
So, what is the big deal with nutrition and wound healing you ask? Well, we all need good nutrition for normal cellular activity and to survive, right? When we have an injury to our body or an open wound, the nutritional requirements increase.
Being a nurse, I know the basics, but by all means, I am not an expert in nutrition. When I have questions about nutrition, I reach out to the professionals who specialize in this field. One of the principles of wound care is to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team, and dieticians are on the team. I will highlight the basics in in nutrition, but please consult your dietician for more information.
Wound healing is an anabolic process which means the body utilizes energy released by catabolism to synthesize complex molecules. This process requires specific nutrients. If the patient doesn’t receive these specific nutrients in the specific amounts needed, wound healing is delayed. What are those specific nutrients needed? Critical macronutrients include carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates aid the wound repair process, and the proteins promote collagen synthesis (build up). Carbohydrates also are needed for enzyme production and cellular multiplication. Glutamine and arginine are two specific amino acids within proteins that aid in the body’s physiologic stress response as well as help in the wound healing process.
Micronutrients such as the B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E also aid in wound healing. Zinc and iron are important in collagen formation as well as immune function.
We can’t forget about fats and hydration! Fats are important for the intracellular and cell wall development for stability of the cell. They also play an important role in the inflammatory response to injury. Omega 3-fatty acids are the specific fats we look to for aiding in wound healing.
Fluid and hydration are also vital not only in the role of wound healing but for the transportation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The general rule for fluid is at least 1500 ccs per 24 hours based on Dwyer’s equation of 30ml per kilogram per body weight. The exception to this rule is for patients that have renal or heart conditions in which the recommendation would be different.
As you can see, nutrition plays a huge role in supporting wound healing. All patients with wounds should be evaluated on their nutritional status.
The chart below shows some examples of various foods that represent the energy needed for wound healing.
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