Ban the bruises!

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2008, 12:00am

This week Katrina Weiss, 16

Katrina asks: I get bruised really easily - is there anything I can eat to prevent this?

Wynnie says: Some people bruise more easily than others - it's often determined by how thick a layer of fat you have over your body. An inadequate layer means that bruises will appear even if you knock against something lightly.

Bruising occurs when blood vessels under the skin break or burst as a result of an injury or knock. The blood is responsible for the reddish-purple colour that we associate with bruises.

Special cells called 'platelets' come to the rescue of burst blood vessels by plugging up the cracks or breaks in the blood vessels to stop the bleeding.

Depending on the severity of the bruise, the blood underneath the skin will get reabsorbed into the body over either a few days or a few weeks.

You'll notice that during the healing process, as the blood gets reabsorbed, the colour of the bruise changes from reddish-purple to green, yellow and then brown.

The first thing to do when you knock yourself is apply an ice pack to the area for 10-minute periods several times during the first 24 hours. You can use a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel if you don't have an ice pack.

For the next 24 hours, periodically apply a warm compress to stop the pain, reduce swelling and clear away the pooled blood.

Nutritional deficiencies affect the body's healing process, so make sure you eat a variety of foods and include the following:

Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, green peppers, broccoli and citrus fruit juice.

Vitamin C helps protect against bruising by strengthening capillary walls.

Vitamin K-rich foods such as green vegetables like peas and spinach, and beans and pulses like chickpeas and soybeans.

Vitamin K helps improve blood-clotting time and works with vitamin C to repair body cells. What's more, vitamin K supports the body's ability to reabsorb the blood from surrounding tissues, helping to restore the skin back to its normal colour.

Rutin-rich foods such as citrus fruits, red apples, teas, broccoli, buckwheat and onions.

Rutin is a bioflavonoid that can't be made by the body and so must be provided by dietary means. It's needed for the normal absorption of vitamin C and helps to strengthen blood vessels.

Zinc-containing foods such as oysters and other seafood, wholegrains and lean meats. Zinc is important in skin repair and wound-healing and is needed to maintain healthy connective tissue.

You should avoid dietary supplements such as fish oil, garlic, ginger and ginkgo biloba which can increase your chances of bruising.

Arnica ointment applied daily to the bruise helps to reduce swelling and discolouration.

Katrina's diary:

Breakfast: Sandwich or homemade sushi (with cooked meats)

Lunch and dinner: Rice or noodles, tofu, fish, or chicken, leafy vegetables

Snacks: Savoury snacks or crackers; sometimes chocolate

Drinks: Water, juice, Yakult, lemon tea

Exercise: 1.5 hours football and 1.5 hours PE lessons a week