9 Foods to Speed Up Healing and Recovery for Seniors


Many factors come into play in successful wound care management, but perhaps none is as essential as nutrition. Proper nutrition is especially important for older adults who are more vulnerable to infections, weight loss or gain, loss of energy, and other health problems that can result after an illness or accident.

During the healing process, your body requires more energy due to increased metabolic demands. This means that a lack of proper nutrition can compromise the functionality of the body, thus delaying recovery. Coupled with the fact that seniors tend to have difficulty meeting nutritional demands (which can worsen during an illness), it is critical to pay attention to the foods older adults eat when recovering.

Here are foods seniors should add to their diets, and those that should be avoided to ensure a speedy recovery:

Foods to add to diet during recovery 


Vegetables are a good source of carbohydrates and help deal with the fatigue that is common during recovery from an illness. They also provide the body with energy to prevent muscles from breaking down. Moreover, the fiber in vegetables reduces constipation, a common side effect of decreased mobility and pain medications.

Vegetables with a high amount of vitamins and minerals include carrots, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, sweet bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Having a diet rich in vegetables provides the nutrients seniors need to heal faster.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats play a critical role during recovery from an accident or illness. One of their key functions is to enhance the absorption of vitamins and provide the energy needed for the body to function normally. They also help to strengthen the immune system to prevent diseases and infections.

Examples of foods with healthy fats are: avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil. Noteworthy is that most fats contain vitamin E, which helps wounds to heal faster and also reduce the appearance of scars.


Seniors are required to consume an adequate amount of proteins to facilitate the repair of muscles that have may have been damaged during an accident or illness. The amino acids in proteins help in the repair of muscles by regenerating tissue, consequently helping a patient recover faster.

Foods rich in protein include poultry, eggs, seafood, beans and lentils, nuts, and tofu. If a senior is experiencing difficulties chewing and digesting tough meat, consider meats that have been slow-cooked in sauces, or ground meats. In addition, eggs, legumes, and tofu are good softer alternatives to meat.


Eggs are ideal for seniors recovering from an illness, thanks to their high amount of nutrients. Typically, one egg contains several nutrients, including calcium, zinc, iron, folic acid, B complex vitamins, proteins, riboflavin, and vitamins A, E, and K. All these nutrients play a role in speeding the recovery process and keeping infections at bay.

Moreover, eggs are easy to prepare and serve, which makes it possible for seniors to maintain a good diet even in the absence of a carer.

Dark leafy greens

A senior’s diet should never lack greens, as they offer a great dose of vitamins A, C, E, and K. These vitamins are responsible for blood clotting as well as boosting energy levels. Other nutrients contained in leafy greens are B-complex vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron, and fiber.

Incorporate these vitamin-rich greens in a senior’s diet: kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and spinach. Serving seniors with dark leafy greens will provide them the nutrients needed to help the body function properly, prevent infections, and ensure they have the required energy to facilitate recovery.


Fruits are a credible source of essential nutrients such as vitamins (A and C), fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and many other nutritious calories that the body needs to heal properly. The fiber in fruits also helps to keep away the discomfort of constipation and related issues that can compromise the healing process.

Some fruits to include in a senior’s diet are oranges, apples, melon, grapefruit, papaya, tomatoes, berries, peaches, mangoes, and apricots. The vitamin C found in fruits also raises levels of collagen, which is critical in building bones, tendons, skin, and muscles.

Whole grains

In place of complex carbohydrates (which are not advisable during an illness), whole grains can be a good source of energy needed to promote faster healing. In addition to raising energy levels, whole grains also offer fiber to promote bowel health.

Whole grains can include steel-cut oats, wild rice, whole wheat, and quinoa. Remember that in the absence of carbohydrates, the body will break down muscle tissue to get energy, leading to undesired health consequences.


Probiotics are an essential part of the recovery process, as they help in food digestion as well as fighting germs and infections to ensure the body is functioning optimally. They also restore gut balance that tends to be destroyed by antibiotics, anesthetics, and painkillers taken during illness. Common forms of probiotic-rich foods are kefir, kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut.


Illnesses tend to dehydrate the body, meaning the water level will go down significantly. Since the human body is 55-65 percent water, staying hydrated is critical for the healing process. In any case, body fluid is a requisite for cell replication and growth, joint lubrication, and muscle function.

Foods to avoid during recovery

As you look for the best foods to speed up a senior’s recovery, it is equally important to consider those that can slow the healing process. This is particularly essential for ill seniors, who are more vulnerable to diseases and infections. Here are three things older adults should avoid when recovering:

Added sugars

Foods and drinks containing a high amount of sugars provide an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, thus negatively affecting the healing process. Refined sugars also cause a spike followed by a low that makes you feel tired and drained, making it hard to exercise or perform normal activities.

Highly processed foods

Processed foods can increase the levels of blood sugars in the body, which can drain the energy required to heal. Most processed foods also lack fiber, and this can lead to constipation. They also contain chemicals to enhance the food that may have negative effects.


In addition to slowing down the rate of blood clotting, alcohol impairs your immune system (leading to infections), increases the risk of bleeding, and causes blood vessels to swell. It may also not react well with medication, and this can affect the recovery process.

A common problem that can affect seniors during recovery is weight gain, more so because there is less mobility and exercise. However, by maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding sugars, processed foods, and alcohol, it is possible to keep weight in check, and consequently avoid the adverse effects of weight gain.

Equally important, seniors should eat regularly when recovering from an illness or accident. Typically, having at least three meals per day is ideal for facilitating the healing process. Older adults require more food to boost energy levels, increase resistance to diseases, and boost mental sharpness.



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