Nutrition & Healing

Nutrition & Healing
Nutrition & Healing
Nutrition & Healing

Healing From the Inside Out:

Protein Basics

Why Is Protein So Important?

Foods high in protein give your body the essential nutrients it needs for wound healing. Protein is required to promote tissue growth and cell renewal. Eating adequate amounts of protein every day is essential to healing from wounds or injuries, maintaining lean body mass, and leading a healthy life.

The Amino Acid Story

You might have heard of amino acids and wondered about their relationship with protein and nutrition. Amino acids are, in fact, the building blocks of protein. Protein is structured by chains of amino acids, and as your body digests protein, these amino acids are broken down. Your body then uses these amino acids for collagen and connective tissue synthesis, cell multiplication, and a proper inflammatory response. Some amino acids, called “essential amino acids,” cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by food or supplement sources of complete protein. Food sources of complete protein include:

  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt
  • Beans, such as lentils, split peas, and black beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy
  • Some grains (such as wheat germ and quinoa)

So, How Much Protein Do I Need?

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.36 grams/pound for healthy people.

This is about:

  • 56 grams/day for the average sedentary man
  • 46 grams/day for the average sedentary woman

For comparison:

  • A 3-ounce chicken breast has about 21 grams of protein
  • An 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein

People recovering from wounds or injuries may require more than these recommended amounts. It is best to discuss your protein needs with your healthcare provider or your registered dietitian.


If you have kidney or liver disease, speak to your healthcare provider before you increase your protein intake.

Get More Protein With a Poor Appetite

Try protein powder or a ready-to-drink, high-protein nutrition shake for a convenient and an easy way to increase your caloric and protein intake.

Based on information from:

MedlinePlus. Protein in diet. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health website. Updated September 5, 2017. Accessed September 20, 2017.