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Nutrition For Wound Healing in Aged Care

Did you know dietitians can play a crucial role in assisting with the management of wounds and pressure injuries in aged care settings?


The skin is the largest organ of the body and undergoes significant changes during the ageing process. As the layers of the skin change, its normal function as a barrier to infection, protection, temperature regulation, and water retention are affected. These changes make older adults more susceptible to damage from moisture, friction, or trauma, which can lead to the development of wounds and pressure injuries.


Ageing Skin

The incidence of skin tears, pressure injuries, chronic leg ulcers, and diabetic foot ulcers increases with age and, therefore, requires careful and proactive management. Older adults in aged care facilities often have unique nutritional needs due to age-related physiological changes, chronic health conditions, and the impact of medications. Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining overall health and wellbeing, and it plays a pivotal role in wound healing.


Key Nutrients for Wound Healing


1. Protein

Protein is essential for the maintenance and repair of body tissue, making it critical for the wound healing process. Inadequate protein intake can delay healing and impair the body's ability to recover. Good sources of protein for older adults include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, and tofu. It is recommended that individuals with wounds consume 1.2-1.5g of protein per kilogram of their body weight each day.


Protein Foods For Wound Healing

2. Energy

The body's energy requirements increase during wound healing, depending on the size and complexity of the wound. Adequate energy intake is necessary to support the healing process and overall wellbeing. Foods rich in energy, such as wholegrain bread, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, meat, milk, cheese, butter, cream, yoghurt, oils, and margarine, should be included in the diet. A daily intake of 30-35 kcal per kilogram of ideal body weight is recommended for individuals with wounds.


3. Zinc

This essential mineral plays a key role in tissue growth and healing. It is vital for maintaining the integrity of the skin and promoting proper wound healing. Good dietary sources of zinc include red meat, fish, milk products, chicken, and eggs.


4. Iron

Iron is necessary for providing oxygen to the wound site, aiding in the healing process. Ensuring sufficient iron intake can support wound healing and prevent complications. Foods rich in iron include red meat, offal, fish, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, and yeast extracts like Vegemite.


vegemite for Iron

5. Vitamin C

This vitamin is crucial for forming new blood vessels, supporting the immune system, and aiding in the absorption of iron. Adequate vitamin C intake is essential for proper wound healing. Excellent sources of vitamin C include oranges, tomatoes, and leafy vegetables.


Hydration

Hydration is also vital in wound management, as dehydrated skin is less elastic and more susceptible to breakdown. Proper hydration helps maintain skin integrity and improves blood flow, facilitating the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the wound site. The European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition recommends women consume at least 1.6 litres and men at least 2 litres of water per day.

hydration for wound healing


Supplements for Would Healing


Arginine

Arginine is an amino acid found in various protein-rich foods, has been identified as essential for wound healing. For chronic wounds that aren't healing well, an arginine-enriched nutritional supplement, in addition to a high-energy, high-protein diet, is recommended to support the healing process.


Supplementation in Aged Care Facilities

Specific wound care supplements like Arginiad, Arginaid Extra, Cubitan, and Enprocol Repair can be valuable in supporting the healing of chronic and slow-healing wounds. These supplements typically contain a combination of Arginine, Zinc, and Vitamin C to promote wound healing. It's essential to use wound-specific supplements for a minimum of 2 weeks for optimal effectiveness. Consulting a dietitian can help determine the right dosage and supplement for individual residents' needs.


Supplement for Wound Healing


Overall, good nutrition is vital for optimal health, wellbeing, and wound care in aged care settings. Encouraging residents to consume a diverse range of foods from each of the five food groups (breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, dairy and alternatives, lean meats, fish, poultry, legumes, and alternatives) is essential for meeting nutritional requirements. In some cases, meeting specific wound care nutrient needs through regular food intake alone may be challenging, making oral nutritional supplementation a beneficial option to support wound healing.


As always, it is crucial to consult a dietitian and medical team when deciding on the most suitable nutrition plan for older adults in your care. The expertise of a Full Circle Wellness Dietitian is available to provide valuable guidance and support. Our Dietitian is available throughout the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions, offering home visits and online dietitian consultations.



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