You are what you eat – that’s a phrase that really makes sense once you start paying attention to how food affects your mind and body. However, even with this awareness, people generally tend to be unaware of how food affects their tattoo and its healing process. Some don’t even think about the connection, which may possibly be why people experience prolonged scarring from tattoos, inflammation, and other side effects from poor diets.
However, if you are reading this, you have taken the first step; this is a sign that you want to be informed about proper nutrition during tattoo aftercare. And, you are also in the right place; In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about how food affects your tattoo and what foods and ingredients you should completely avoid until your tattoo has healed. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
How Food Affects Your Tattoo: Everything You Need To Know
Along with air and water, food is one of the most essential things we need to survive. However, certain foods can help us, provide adequate nutrition and keep us healthy, while other food groups tend to do just the opposite. Even when we are sick, some foods provide comfort and soothe the pain, while others prolong the agony and make us feel even worse. The same applies in the case of tattoo after-effects.
It’s important that we finally understand that fresh new tattoos act like open wounds (not like a wound like we imagine, but still a wound), and that’s how the body treats them. Thus, the body transfers all the energy to the “injured area” to help it heal as quickly as possible. The longer the healing process, the higher the risk of infection, and your body knows it.
So, by eating certain foods, you can either help your body do the job quickly and efficiently, or make that job even harder by not providing extra energy and nutrients. But, that’s a pretty simplistic explanation; Let’s see how exactly food affects your tattoo!
1. Proper Nutrition Can Promote Faster Tattoo Healing
A new tattoo has a specific window in which it must stop oozing and bleeding, begin to dry and close, and eventually continue and complete its healing process. All this happens in the crucial period of the first few weeks. The closure of the tattoo should take place within the first few days. Thus, time is of the essence here; if the tattoo is left open too long and the skin does not begin to heal, there is a significant increase in the possibility of infection.
However, if you follow the aftercare correctly and don’t turn out to be allergic to the ink, you should be fine. But, an important factor in all of this is proper nutrition.
Foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and protein can promote a faster healing process and prevent the onset of infections. These ingredients, along with other vitamins, minerals and amino acids, will boost your immune system and provide the body with all the energy and resources it needs to repair damaged skin and ensure smooth healing.
2. Unhealthy Foods Can Prolong Tattoo Healing
As we mentioned, if you follow the right tattoo aftercare and eat healthy, proper foods, your tattoo will seal and heal in no time. However, a poor diet can have the opposite effect; Fatty, processed, and high-sugar foods can prolong the healing process and even promote the development of inflammation and infection.
Dairy products and sugar, in particular, are known to prolong recovery time and promote inflammation, so they should be especially avoided during the tattoo healing process.
Now, the reason why these foods prolong tattoo healing time is this;
Because unhealthy foods are high in fat, the body needs a lot of energy to process and digest fat. This energy is then directed from healing to digestion, so that the tattoo or damaged skin does not receive full support during the process.
3. Unhealthy foods can promote allergic reactions
There are probably foods or ingredients that you are allergic to. otherwise, you can skip this paragraph. Now, for those who are allergic or simply have a low tolerance to certain foods, it is essential to avoid eating anything that could trigger an allergic reaction.
If you are lactose intolerant and drink, for example, coffee with milk while your fresh tattoo is healing, you can expect a full-fledged allergic reaction. We are talking about blisters, rashes, hives, tattoos, swelling of the skin, etc. The inked area just reacts to the slightest food allergies and intolerances, so you have to be very careful with that.
In the event that such an allergic reaction occurs, you can expect the tattoo to be spoiled, in terms of design and ink. It may even take longer to heal, which can also lead to infection. If this happens, the best thing to do is to consult a doctor and seek professional advice.
So what foods should I avoid after getting a tattoo?
Here are the foods you should completely avoid during the tattoo healing process. This is usually a period of 2 weeks to a month, sometimes even longer if your tattoo naturally takes longer to heal.
- Red and processed meat (bacon, ham, pepperoni, sausage, salami, deli meats, jerky, hot dogs, etc.) – red and processed meat is known to promote inflammation. This is because both are high in saturated fat, which goes hand in hand with other health issues, like cancer or heart disease.
- Sweet foods and drinks (cakes, milk chocolate, filled cookies, candies, cereal bars, ice cream, sweetened coffee, drinks like Coca Cola and Pepsi, salad dressings, energy drinks, etc.) – sugary foods and drinks are probably the worst enemies for your health of the body. Added sugar causes inflammation, promotes fat storage, and prevents the body from healing properly. It’s something you should consume while you’re dealing with a healing tattoo, or consume at all.
- Trans-fatty foods (frozen pizza, baked goods, fried foods including fries, doughnuts, fried chicken, margarine, non-dairy coffee creamer, hamburgers, fried noodles, etc.) – trans fat foods are foods rich in hydrogen and fat, which are added to improve texture, shelf life and taste. These foods cause inflammation in the body and can lead to an increase in bad cholesterol levels.
- Petroleum and petroleum-based products (sunflower oil, peanut oil, canola oil, mayonnaise, etc.) – oil and oil-based products contain omega-6 fatty acids, which are sometimes important for the body but can cause constant inflammation and make the body pro-inflammatory response to consumption. Instead of omega-6, one should consume omega-3 (found in salmon, walnuts and flax seeds).
- Refined carbohydrates (bread, sugary cereals, pasta, white rice, french fries, crackers and cookies, etc.) – refined carbohydrates do not contribute to nutrition and usually contain added sugars. They promote inflammatory reactions in the body and prolong the healing process of any kind.
- Alcoholic Beverages – alcohol should be avoided before and after a tattoo. It can thin the blood and promote excessive bleeding during and after the tattoo process. Excess blood will make it difficult for the tattoo to dry and seal, which can cause an inflammatory reaction and infection.
What is the solution? – Foods you can and should eat after tattooing
Considering all the foods we just mentioned you shouldn’t eat, it might seem like there’s nothing else to eat, right? Well, the aforementioned foods are the basis of an unhealthy diet. Even without a new tattoo, no one should have such nutrition; it leads to heart disease, stroke, obesity, and other health problems that can eventually lead to death.
However, if you’re struggling to find suitable alternatives to the aforementioned foods, here are some of our recommendations. These are the foods you should eat while your tattoo heals and continue to eat for your long term health;
- Leafy Green Vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula, etc.) – leafy greens are loaded with vitamin C, folate, magnesium and provitamin A. All of these are essential for the immune system and when it comes to a healing tattoo, your body definitely needs an immune function boost.
- Fish (salmon) – instead of omega-6, we need to consume omega-3 to reduce inflammation in the body, as with a healing tattoo. Salmon is the best choice because it is not only an excellent source of omega-3s but also of selenium, a mineral that fights inflammation and promotes immune response to injury and body damage.
- Fruit (berries) – during a healing period, you have to eat lots of different fruits. However, we must point out how important it is to eat berries. They are rich in vitamin C, which supports the body’s anti-inflammatory and immune response, as well as wound healing and
- Sweet Potatoes – carbohydrates are not the enemy; we just need to find healthy, unrefined carbs to replace refined ones. Sweet potatoes are the perfect example of healthy carbs. Because they are rich in vitamin C, carotenoids and manganese, which promote wound healing and recovery of the body.
- Nuts and Seeds (almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, etc.) – packed with vitamin E, manganese and magnesium, nuts and seeds can help your tattoo heal in no time. They fuel the body and help it create energy to heal wounds, inflammation and generally help it recover.
- White Meat (chicken, turkey) – unlike red meat, poultry contains amino acids, glutamine and arginine, all of which help the body recover and heal, whether from stress, of injury or illness.
Thus, to promote faster healing of the tattoo it is essential that you eat foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds (omega-3 for example). Be sure to avoid the foods we mentioned earlier, as they will only make the healing process that much harder for you and your body. Instead, focus on staying hydrated and consuming foods rich in nutrition and fiber.
It may seem pointless to pay so much attention to your diet during the entire healing process, but it really is important that your body is properly fueled. For more information on diet and nutrition, be sure to speak with your doctor or nutritionist.
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